Women need to take action against violence, and boys must be taught to respect women. This was the message echoed at the Bonteheuwel Baptist Church last week.
The church hosted an awareness day in commemoration of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
Jann Watlington, a social worker at the Parent Centre in Wynberg, said children neglected by their parents could develop trust issues, moulding them into insecure adults who seek love from the wrong kind of people.
“When a baby cries, people say, ‘Leave the child, don’t spoil them or don’t carry the child all the time.’ The mom attends to chores and the child continues crying and eventually gives up because they realise help is not coming.
“A baby’s crying is their way of communicating. The child develops withdrawal which turns into an insecurity.”
Children growing up in a violent environment risked becoming abusive adults, she said.
“When you speak to perpetrators, almost all of them say that they experienced abuse in their lives, so they grew up thinking that they don’t need to respect women. They also lack positive male role models in their lives.”
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Boys were often taught not to express emotion and praised if they could fight.
“Their anger is often displayed to the wrong people which most of the time are their families. Some men just ignore confrontation completely because they don’t know how to handle it and end up using drugs and fighting.”
Ms Watlington said no child was born violent – violence was learned and corporal punishment did more harm than good.
She said parents should admit if they needed help and say sorry when they had wronged their children, teaching them that it was okay to apologise.
Parents should listen to, trust, and take care of their children, speaking about feelings, showing empathy and finding other ways to discipline their child instead of corporal punishment.
Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi, from SAPS, said people continued to idolise gangsters despite the harm they did to their communities.”Growing up in the township it was actually taboo if you were a rapist or if you killed someone and you were seen as an outcast, but now people are idolising the gangs,” he said.
General Mfazi said people should not be afraid to report sexual crimes.
Women Lead Movement activist Melene Rossouw said violence against women and children should be tackled throughout the year.
Gender inequality was one of the root causes of gender violence, she said.
“Women are taught to be in the kitchen while the boys go out and learn so women feel inferior and accept abuse. It is a huge problem that is being passed down to generations,” said Ms Rossouw.
More women should be appointed in top positions, she said.
“Stop being quiet about the violence. When a woman is beaten and you say nothing, you are an accomplice. Use the power of organisation and mobilisation and stand up.”
Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie said murders in the community had dropped from 88 cases in 2018 to only four to date, but for that number to stay low people would need to work together.