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Department of Social Work and Criminology takes firm stand on violence against women
29 August 2017

 

The Department of Social Work and Criminology at the University of Pretoria (UP) takes a firm position on violence against women and children, especially during August when we celebrate Women's Month. We take note of the Minister of Social Development and ANC Women's League president, Minister Bathabile Dlamini's defence of Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, in an interview with the Sunday Times (13 August 2017), indicating that there are other senior government officials who 'are worse' in terms of committing acts of violence against women. In campaigning to bring an end to all forms of violence against women, children and other vulnerable groups, we urge the Minister to expose the 'others' so that high-ranking leaders can be held accountable for their actions. Keeping silent about abuse of women and children is a significant contributor to non-reporting of such cases.

Protecting women is critical in a society that takes child protection seriously. Children are exposed to violence in their homes, their schools and the broader society. The incident on Monday, 14 August, where a female teacher was shot dead in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, in full view of her grade 2 pupils, is sufficient reason for the government to take violence against women and children seriously, starting by holding the Deputy Minister of Higher Education fully accountable for his actions.

Children learn by observing and copying the behaviour of parents, caregivers and other significant role models in society. Any actions that demonstrate or seem to condone violence against others could thus create perceptions that violent acts are acceptable in dealing with interpersonal conflict. South Africa faces increasing problems in terms of school violence, which might escalate if adults in the home, school or community model violence as a way to handle interpersonal differences.

Protection of women and children is high on the government's agenda and is central to the country's laws and policies. It also features strongly in the National Development Plan. On Women's Day, President Jacob Zuma indicated that 'Government is playing its part in fighting these crimes against women. South Africa must be safe for women and children in every corner. The South African Police Service has been directed to treat crimes against women and children as an apex priority.' The Department of Social Work and Criminology stands in solidarity with the view of the UP Centre for Human Rights, that the incident pertaining to the Deputy Minister of Higher Education 'provides an opportunity for the government to take action on violence against women.'

Immediate and decisive action against all forms of violence against women, children and other vulnerable groups will concretise government leaders' commitment to protect these groups.

 

Prof Antoinette Lombard
Head of Department

 

 

- Author Prof Antoinette Lombard
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Prof Antoinette Lombard