An organisation led by men is spearheading efforts to end violence against women in Limpopo. The Real Men Foundation hosted a conference on the fight against Gender-Based Violence at Makwarela Community Hall, outside Thohoyandou, on Saturday.
Nearly 1000 women were raped in Limpopo between October and November last year, while nearly 100 other women were sexually assaulted.
Among the dignitaries who attended were Police Minister Bheki Cele, Social Development MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale, and Acting Provincial Police Commissioner, Major General Jan Scheepers.
Limpopo province was once considered one of the most peaceful provinces in the country, but this is slowly changing. Crime statistics show that police stations in the province record some of the highest crime incidents in the country. The Real Men Foundation wants to curb violence against women and children.
“If we can check the statistics, even the one that has been just tabled by our Provincial Commissioner, you can see that many women are being raped. And if we can check who is raping them, it’s us men. So that’s the reason why we have decided as the Real Men Foundation to come together to start to teach the community, to make different awareness to teach men to behave towards these issues.”
Government leaders who attended the conference encouraged members of the public to fight violence against women and children.
“These statistics we are giving here nationally from October to December 11 000 women were raped in the south, in three months. But here are your real statistics, 50% of them were raped in their own houses. Raped in the houses of boyfriends, husbands, uncles. Raped in the houses of the people that are supposed to be defending them.”
Limpopo Social Development MEC, Nkakareng Rakgoale says, “The issue of Gender-Based Violence in as much as I agree with those who were speaking here, it culminate in a lot of things. Sometimes it starts from substance abuse, it ended up being the issue of Gender-Based Violence, not only that but also the issue of bullying which is coming out very rive these days at schools. So we need to work together and we are available as the Department of Social Development to work with everyone.”
Some of the women who attended the event called upon men to refrain from GBV. Activist, Nyandano Nekulangani has urged people to leave unhealthy relationships.
“I would like to say to men, please allow that woman to move, or to run. Or even you, run for your life as a man because you can’t stay in an unhealthy relationship because if you want a relationship, you should be happy. When we talk about love, we don’t talk about tears, we talk about happiness.”
Minister Cele has urged the public to report crime and assist police with the information. He says families should also stop preventing victims of GBV from reporting sexual crimes committed by relatives and family members.
Thohoyandou records one of the highest rape cases in SA between July-September: Stats SA