Johannesburg – Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday night warned South African men that thinking they have a duty to protect women was among the drivers of the gender-based violence and femicide scourge.
Cele was among the contributors to the ANC’s men’s dialogue aimed at taking concrete actions towards gender equality and the elimination of GBV and femicide that was also addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
”Sometimes, I’ll be controversial here, sometimes I don’t agree very much with the theory that men must protect women. Women don’t need protection of men, they need their space, they’re fully-fledged human beings,” he explained.
Cele said his vision when he became national police commissioner in 2009 was to ensure that young women can walk home in the middle of the night without the fear of being assaulted, attacked or raped by any person.
He assured South Africans that this was still his vision and that all men should also share it.
“They (women) don’t need our protection, they need their space, they’re capable, they’re bright, they can do things. This idea of protecting them gives [men] the idea of ownership as if they’re our pets. They are not our pets. They are fully-fledged human beings,” Cele maintained.
Deputy justice minister John Jeffery warned that the fight against gender-based violence and femicide will not be easy as many men still see women as possessions and sexual objects of gratification.
“There is no magic bullet to end gender-based violence, femicide, rape and sexual offences. There is no switch that we can press or click that will end it,” he cautioned.
According to Jeffery, the fight was very much a societal issue
“It’s not something that we can put a police person in every home to police the relationship between a couple,” he said.
However, Jeffery said there was still a lot more that men have to do.
“The people who perpetrate gender-based violence are not from across the border or from some other place. They’re men, they’re us as men … It’s our fathers, brothers, sons, friends,” he said.
Jeffery added: “We may have friends who assault women and we don’t call them out on it”.