The President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, in his address at the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide on 1 November 2018, said that gender-based violence is “a crisis that is tearing our society apart. It is a crisis that affects every community in our country and that touches the lives of most families in one way or another. Gender-based violence is an affront to our shared humanity”.
We have been talking about the problem of violence for many years. We have developed a range of programmes, developed new laws since 1994 – yet the scourge of violence, especially gender-based violence, seems increasingly brazen and difficult. We as the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) System have to work harder at creating a safer caring society with a concerted focus on safety and protection of all people, in particular our female students and staff. As some often remind us, these problems exist in other parts of the world too. Our concern however, is that they seem not to be incidental but are a deeply entrenched part of our social fabric.
With this Policy Framework we want to direct the PSET system in contributing to identify effective responses and solutions to what is clearly a deeply complex social challenge for South Africa. It is our vision that this Policy Framework will become part of the solution, not only to address gender-based violence in our institutions, but also to engage society and communities in curbing gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence is not acceptable. Condemnation needs to be constant and consistent, perpetrators need to be prosecuted. It requires that we address societal issues of patriarchy, economic relations and changing the way of thinking about gender relations. No man is entitled to exert economic and other forms of power over women. And no woman must find themselves tolerating the injustices perpetrated against them, simply because they may have inadequate economic or emotional resources to walk away from a dangerous relationship. Preconceived notions of how women and men should behave must be addressed – no person has the right to treat anyone as inferior or to harm them in any way.
Men and women are equal in all respects.
A society that does not support notions of authority and control over women, and does not tolerate violence against women, is more likely to reduce gender-based violence. By working together, by confronting difficult issues, and by mobilising everyone in and around our institutions, we shall create a society where everyone, especially women, feel safe and are safe at all times and in all places.
Dr GNM Pandor, MP
Minister of Higher Education and Training