SA 'falling desperately short' on GBV: Ramaphosa pleads for men to step up

22 November 2021 - 11:03
By Nonkululeko Njilo
'It is not enough to intervene only once perpetrators have entered the criminal justice system. We have to prevent GBV before it happens,
Image: 123RF/Artit Oubkaew 'It is not enough to intervene only once perpetrators have entered the criminal justice system. We have to prevent GBV before it happens," says President Cyril Ramaphosa. Stock photo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged men to play a more active role in curbing gender-based violence (GBV) ahead of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.

It has become almost normal for South Africans to participate in marches, attend mass mobilisation events, and wear regalia emblazoned with slogans such as “Sekwanele — enough is enough”, he said in his weekly Monday newsletter. 

This needs to change and men should be at the forefront of the awareness campaigns.

“Gender-based violence is, after all, a problem of male violence. It is predominantly men who are rapists. It is mainly men who are perpetrators of domestic violence.

“Because it is men who are the main perpetrators, it should be men taking the lead in speaking out and reporting gender-based violence, in raising awareness, in peer education and in prevention efforts,” Ramaphosa said. 

Child murders

Last week police minister Bheki Cele released the latest quarterly crime statistics (July to September), revealing, among other things, that 9,556 people, mostly women, were raped — an increase of 7% over the previous reporting period.

The stats further showed that of the almost 73,000 assault cases reported in the same period, more than 13,000 were domestic violence-related. Child murders increased by nearly a third compared to the previous reporting period. 

“If a nation’s character can be judged by how it treats women and children, then we are falling desperately short,” Ramaphosa said, lamenting the “shameful statistics”. 

“We are in the grip of a relentless war waged on the bodies of women and children that, despite our best efforts, shows no signs of abating.”

“We have said before that the violence perpetrated by men against women is the second pandemic our country must confront and, like the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be overcome if we all work together.”  

Turning to government interventions to curb GBV, Ramaphosa said since the launch of the national strategic plan last year there had been several new interventions to respond to GBV. These included:

  • far-reaching legislative reform;
  • support for survivors via provision of evidence kits at police stations;
  • psychosocial services;
  • the establishment of a GBV and femicide (GBVF) response fund; and
  • supporting the network of Thuthuzela and Khuseleka Care Centres.

“Just as ending gender-based violence cannot be the state’s responsibility alone, the onus cannot be on women and children to end the shocking levels of violence and abuse being visited upon them,” Ramaphosa said.

“South African men need to play a greater role in preventing GBV. They need to understand what constitutes gender-based violence, especially sexual violence.”


This year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign should shift from awareness to accountability and create an environment for men to play a greater role in GBV prevention, he said.

“It is not enough to intervene only once perpetrators have entered the criminal justice system. We have to prevent gender-based violence before it happens.” 

Men can play an active role by respecting their wives and girlfriends, by refusing to condone violence against women and children, by not being party to such acts and by reporting them, thus setting an example to other men, especially young men and boys. 

“I call on all South African men — young and old, city dwellers and rural dwellers, modernists and traditionalists, married and unmarried — to be part of the prevention efforts that are sorely needed in homes and in our communities.”