SA needs more social workers to address scourge of GBV: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said more social workers were needed to aid in SA's fight against gender-based violence.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said more social workers were needed to aid in SA's fight against gender-based violence.
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa would like South African men to get some sort of counselling as one way of addressing the brutal violence against women in SA.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an online dialogue on gender-based violence (GBV), organised by the ANC and its alliance partners on Monday night.

While he called on South African men to take the lead in the fight against violence on women and children, Ramaphosa said men themselves may need professional socio-analytical experts to help them considering the violent environment they live in and the violence of SA's past.

Another aspect is that our society is largely traumatised by all the terrible things that we inherited from apartheid,” he said.

“Apart from poverty, inequality and unemployment, there is just also the violent environment that our people live in. That's why we've been saying we want socio-analysis people - your social workers, your supportive, other socio-analytical skilled people, or experts - to be in place.

“I want all the social workers who are unemployed right now to be brought into employment because there are many wounds and there are many scars in our society and some of them manifest themselves in all these terrible things that are happening to our women.”

The president said women would also be supported and that when a woman is abused or violated, there is a professional on hand and at short notice to be able to assist. He said he was unhappy with the number of Thuthuzela centres and that it needed to be increased.

I want all the social workers who are unemployed right now to be brought into employment because there are many wounds and scars in our society.
President Cyril Ramaphosa

“We also need to get those people to spend time with men, in groups, so that we can pass on the message,” he said.

Ramaphosa said there were a number of permutations in the fight against GBV and that it was key to target SA men and their hearts and souls because it is they who disrespect, dishonour and destroy women's lives.

“And by destroy I mean really destroy,” he said. “If you rape a woman, you basically are sentencing her to death, and if you kill a woman, she is dead. And this is happening at the hands of men.

“If you unleash your violence against a woman, you are scarring her for life. This is precisely what we men need to be aware of and to stop. Because unless we mobilise men to stop, the violence they are perpetrating against women, it will not stop.”

Ramaphosa repeated a view he expressed last week that SA was facing two pandemics: the coronavirus and gender-based violence.

“It is a real scourge that in this day and age, especially as we are going through the coronavirus, we have to go through another pandemic, where the women of our country have become completely defenceless and where they are being slaughtered like animals.

“This needs to be put out in the public and we need to get men to stop this cruelty and to stop this horrendous disposition that they have towards women.”

He dismissed those who use tradition or culture to defend abusive behaviour.

“This is not part of our culture, this is not part of our tradition. Our forebears never behaved in this way. Therefore we should be pushing that message that we are acting untraditionally, unculturally [sic] and completely devoid of the morality that underpinned the lives of our forebears.”

The president said he hoped the initiative by the ANC and its alliance partners would become a “massive moment” that would rage throughout the country and get men to realise that women are not their objects or their punching bags, to be raped and killed.

“If we can do that in the streets of our townships and in the pathways of our villages, we can then mobilise various other organisations where men participate – our traditional leaders, in the churches, in the stokvels, sports clubs and all that,” he said.

“If we can do that, we would have gone a long way.”

Other speakers included ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini, the SACP's Solly Mapaila, ANC provincial leaders and MPs. All decried the violence perpetuated against women.


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