Mmusi Maimane has shared the difficulty of living in fear on behalf of his daughter and women across the country who are vulnerable to gender-based violence. He was speaking to TV host Olwethu Leshabane via Instagram Live on Monday night.
Reflecting on his childhood, the One SA leader said he grew up on Johannesburg’s West Rand, under which Dobsonville and Durban Deep in Roodepoort fall. This is where three cases of gender-based violence were reported in one week, including that of Tshegofatso Pule and Sanelisiwe Mfaba.
Maimane says as a man, his role is to work with his peers in fighting for and preserving the dignity of women while they are still young.
“This afternoon I sat with an activist who described to me the heinous crimes that men do and I thought to myself, we need to fight better, be at the forefront of the battle and we need to say ‘not in my name’. I can only speak to other men and say this is an evil that cannot be continued.
“I must be the first one to say no girl must miss school because they don’t have sanitary towels because if we can’t preserve the dignity of a young girl at school, how can we preserve it after school?”
As a father of a son, Maimane says his fight against GBV also starts from home, where he has to teach his boy child how women must be treated. The same needs to be done for other young boys in SA who, for generations, had to raise themselves in the absence of their fathers who were forced to leave their families in search of work during apartheid.
“I think our system must create much better policing, a much better system of prosecuting those who commit such heinous crimes that if you commit such a crime against a woman, it should be common cause that you will end up in jail for a long time.”
Maimane says parents also need to be active in their children’s lives by initiating conversations about gender roles as early as possible. They must also work with their teachers and make sure that their children display the right qualities.
“Many parents don’t even attend school meetings. Show up, ask the teacher ‘how do I partner with you so that we end up with the person I want to see?’ You can’t just say ‘teach them whatever’, you have to have a sense of how these partnerships work.”