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LISTEN | Social development deputy minister defends comments that cancer contributes to GBV

24 August 2020 - 14:21 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of social development, says cancer is an unnoticed contributor to gender-based violence.
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of social development, says cancer is an unnoticed contributor to gender-based violence.
Image: Supplied

Social development deputy minister Hendrietta Bagopane-Zulu has defended claims made by herself and the department about a link between cancer and gender-based violence (GBV).

A tweet posted by the department on Friday claimed cancer contributes to GBV. It sparked anger and confusion among South Africans.

The deputy minister was in the Northern Cape during a cancer awareness campaign hosted by the PinkDrive at the time.

In an audio clip sent to TimesLIVE by the department, Bagopane-Zulu attempted to defend her statements. “Breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate and testicular cancer are contributors to GBV because all of these are sexually related. They are the jewels of the family.”

Here is what she had to say: 

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She said women who have had mastectomies and cervical cancer are victimised and are considered “less than” or “incomplete” by their partners. Men who have prostate cancer become abusive due to the frustration of being unable to perform sexually.

“Cervical cancer is one of the contributors because when women are in pain, going through treatment and cannot perform their marital duties of providing sex to their partners, they are abused and ill-treated,” said the deputy minister.

Bagopane-Zulu said women risk their lives and avoid getting tested because of stigma around cervical cancer. She encouraged women to educate themselves about the importance of testing and seeking treatment for different types of cancers.

“Women who need life-saving treatments, like a hysterectomy, avoid it because a myth is out there, that when you do it you will be dry and cold and you will no longer be sexually desirable. A lot of women lose their lives protecting their sexual myths,” she said.

The deputy minister also “clarified” the comments in a Twitter thread, but South Africans weren't buying it.


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