The fight against sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) can be won with proper upbringing of girls and boys, gender equality advocates say.
Miss Universe, 2019 and gender equality advocate Ms Zozibini Tunzi said normalising violence during childhood permeates into adulthood when it becomes worse.
“When you have pre-school boy and girl playing and the boy beats up the girl, the first thing that people say is ‘don’t worry. Oh he likes her?’” she said during a December 4, Fighting a Shadow Pandemic webinar convened by Foreign Policy.
“This is where it (violence against women and girls) begins. You are subconsciously teaching this young boy that love is violence. You are also teaching this young girl that to be loved is to be violated,” she added.
She said, boys and girls should be nurtured into understanding principles of gender equality. With the knowledge, the boys will respect and value the rights of girls and vice versa, she said.
“Start teaching girls and boys about consent (and) boundaries. We have to start today creating an army of men that we want to see in future,” she said.
Comprehensive data lacking
UN Women representative in South Africa, Ms Anne Githuku-Shongwe, identified lack of comprehensive data as a critical barrier to tackling SGBV.
“One of the challenges we have with data is the fact that less than 40 per cent of women report violence (and yet they are the main sources of data),” she said.
“We tend not to know what is really happening in terms of violence from country to country unless there is a full national prevalence survey,” she added.
In South Africa, she said, femicide stands at 12.5 deaths per 100,000 women which has earned its identities such as murder or rape capital of the world.
Globally, 137 women are killed every day with 50 per cent of murders committed by intimate partners thus implying that homes are not safe for women, she said.
Black Women Caucus, founder and chairperson, Ms Fatimata Moutloatse said rise in student movements has revolutionised anti-SGBV campaigns to bring to attention sexual harassment in higher learning institutions previously under the wrap.
Their activism in South Africa, for instance, catapulted President Cyril Ramaphosa into action against SGBV.