Social Development Deputy Minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, has spoken out against the increasing number of cases related to gender-based violence in the country. She was addressing a packed auditorium in Benoni, east of Johannesburg on Saturday.
Bogopane-Zulu’s department is hosting the first Boys’ Assembly in an attempt to curb gender-based violence in the country.
The aim of the assembly is to encourage young boys to join the fight against gender-based violence and address gender inequalities in the country.
She says it is important to allow young boys to engage in discussions around gender imbalances in the country.
“What is the contribution of boys in making South Africa a better place? We want to leave this country in the hands of men that won’t beat their wives, of men that won’t spread HIV, of men that won’t be addicted to drugs, of men that will take care of their children.”
A child protection officer at UNICEF, Gloria Khoza, says it is time to focus on the upliftment of the boy child. Khoza says now is the time to involve men and boys in the discussions related gender-based violence.
“Boys are often left behind, we look at the girls and we’ve been trying to bring them up, forward to ensure gender equality… but now we’re also at a stage where we need to move together as men and boys. It’s an opportunity that all of us need to take with our hands and run with it because it’s an opportunity where each and every one of your voices will be heard – and your voices is what is going to determine the future.You are men here coming to champion change.”
It was a learning experience for many, but some of the boys disclosed information about their roles as fathers.
Earlier this year, Statistics South Africa revealed in its 2017 Recorded Births report that over 60% of children born in the country last year had no details of their fathers recorded on their birth certificates.
The boys, with the eldest being 20, shared information about their children. Only a few of them are allowed contact with their children.
High on the agenda was drugs – a 19-year-old boy from Mpumalanga has told the assembly of his experience using nyaope and KAT – two potent drugs known to lead to psychosis, panic attacks and depression that could lead to suicide.
The assembly has drawn over 500 young men from different provinces.