The campaign to end violence against women and children begins with you and me, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The time has come for all of us to speak with one voice and take a stand. Just as we did during the apartheid struggle we must mobilise all sectors of society against this scourge,” the Deputy President said on Sunday.
He was speaking at a special sermon on no violence against women and children, at the Rhema Bible Church, in Randburg, Johannesburg.
“If we are to end violence against women and children, we not only need to change society – we also need to change ourselves. As men, though we may live in a patriarchal society, there is nothing that compels us to hurt women.
“As adults, there is nothing that compels us to harm children. Each one of us, regardless of our upbringing or social circumstances, has been given the power of free will.
“We can make a decision, each of us, not to engage in violence, not to perpetrate abuse. We are responsible for our actions.
“We have the power to choose not to commit acts that hurt others. We have the power to respect and protect the vulnerable in society,” the Deputy President said.
He said that is why it is so important for a church to take up this struggle, because violence and abuse has much to do with the choices that people make.
“It has much to do with the state of their soul and the strength of their convictions. As we have often done before, we turn to the Church to guide society on the path of righteousness.
“The church must take responsibility, men must take responsibility and I must take responsibility,” he said.
By becoming agents of change, men can not only help liberate women from oppression but also liberate themselves as perpetrators of inhumane savagery.
“It’s time for all of us to change our ways,” he said.
The Deputy President said more than that, the Church has an important role in ministering to men and assisting those who need to overcome patriarchal attitudes and violent tendencies.
“Perpetrators of violence may come to the Church seeking absolution. The Church is best placed to counsel on how one should seek forgiveness, but one expects that it requires that people take responsibility for their actions and that they truly repent,” the Deputy President said.
In working to end violence against women and children, South Africa needs to ensure that men are centrally involved.
Men need to organise themselves in a sustained campaign against gender-based violence.
“Individually and collectively, they need to understand that their actions now will determine the kind of society our children live in tomorrow. We should combat the objectification of women.
“We should reject the idea of women as possessions of men and resist the practice of ‘blessers’ and prostituting young women.
“We must help women reclaim agency over their lives and bodies,” said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa