Men championing

More and more South African men, concerned with

the country’s gender-based violence, have become advocates for women’s rights.

Some of these men are ordinary citizens while others are influential members of society.

As the country celebrates Women’s Month this August, PSM spoke to leaders from different sectors who are championing women’s rights at their workplaces and in their personal spaces.

One such leader is the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery.

His department is at the forefront of a range of laws, policies and programmes that impact on the lives of women and women’s rights.

He said the implementation of laws, policies and programmes range from those seeking to protect women against domestic violence and abuse,

enforcing their rights to maintenance and assisting them with deceased estates to the creation of specialised courts, such as sexual offences courts and divorce courts.

Various services are also provided for victims of genderbased violence.

“We also address intimate femicide and are in the process of creating a Femicide Watch,”

 he added. Other initiatives that the department has in place are aimed at increasing female representation across the justice system,

such as in the magistracy, sheriffs’ offices and the legal profession.

Community dialogues “I have been fortunate to have been part of a series of community dialogues with men’s organisations, such as Dads in the Picture,

 a registered fatherhood movement that engages with communities to send a message that all adult men – be they brothers, uncles,

fathers or grandfathers – should take an active role in the upbringing

of children in a safe environment,” the Deputy Minister said.

The community dialogue engage ments seek to ensure that men are approached in a way that seeks to address the underlying causes of unacceptable behaviour.

“Other initiatives that I’ve participated in, such as the 100 Men March, are also extremely important to raise awareness,” he said.

His message to men with regard to ending violence against women is that it is time for the men in the country to stand up

and say to other men that “we must stand together and show our commitment to making South Africa safer for women and children.

The rate of violence against women and children in our country is alarming, and often the abuse and violence is committed by those closest to them.

“We all have mothers, daughters or sisters and we must ensure that they live lives of true freedom – free from violence and free from abuse.

We need to teach young boys to respect women and girls. Protecting women and children is our collective responsibility,” he added.

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