At the inaugural Correctional Male Conversations Session on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), DCS men pledged their full support for the 365 Days Campaign to end GBVF. In the pledge, DCS men recognise that violence against women and children is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognise the inherent equality and dignity of women and children and that it is a violation of their fundamental human rights.
The Correctional Male Conversations on GBVF organized jointly by directorates Spiritual Care and Gender & Equity took place at the Pietermaritzburg Management Area, KwaZulu-Natal region, from 02 – 04 December 2020. This three-day session provided a platform for DCS officials to share experiences, challenges and aspirations towards strengthening efforts to eradicate the spiraling scourge of GBVF in our communities.
Officials in attendance day three led by Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu (son of King Goodwill Zwelithini) signed the pledge and committed to acknowledge the adverse effects violence has on the country, and to play a part in ending Gender-Based Violence, by being positive role models, mentors, and not allowing any form of violence to take place without reporting it.
DCS heeded to the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to embark on various national projects, programmes and campaigns aimed at addressing and improving the status of women, and ensuring full and equal economic empowerment including those in the field of Corrections, as part of the global campaign to achieve Gender Equality by 2030.
Deputy Minister, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa said in his keynote address that from the strengthening of government institutions to restoring trust and faith in the justice system; from faith-based institutions to families, schools, civil society organisations, corporate South Africa and communities – it is time for men to step up and fight viciously against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. This notion was further echoed by Prof S Kumalo from the University of KwaZulu-Natal who spoke about how culture and religion contributes to oppression of women. He also dissected toxic and redemptive masculinity as critical areas that should be discussed in communities striving to curb the GBVF pandemic.
Adhering to the Deputy Minister request to have a form of unprecedented solidarity and collective action, the DCS men held a break-away session where 8 commissions were created during the Correctional Male Conversations Session on GBVF to intensely engage on various topics and find possible solutions.
Each commission thoroughly discussed possible action plans to deal with challenges including ensuring that women with disabilities are not left behind in the development of policies and clear strategies to combat GBVF. Possible solutions were presented by the various commissions The Commissions presented possible solutions including that women with disability should be empowered to occupy senior positions to influence policy changes and development.
Globally, women are affected by gender-based violence including sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is believed to be one of the causes of GBVF, and therefore was of great importance that it be part of an event of this nature, in order for men to be informed and refrain from acts of sexual harassment. Ms Ayanda Bonani, Director Gender and Equity: gave a very eye-opening and informative presentation on what sexual harassment is, the consequences of it and how it can be prevented, especially in the workplace. She also presented the National Strategy on GBVF. Participants were enlightened on what sexual harassment is, its consequences and how it can be prevented, especially in the workplace. Some of the examples of sexual harassment mentioned by Ms Bonani include compliments of a sexual nature where one uses language such as ‘upakile’ or ‘ulahlile’ and making sexual jokes.
The event also encompassed the International Day of Persons with Disability on 03 December 2020. A candle lighting ceremony led by Ms Vuyi Mlomo-Ndlovu: Deputy Commissioner: Remand Operations Management was held to observe the day.
In the morning of 04 December a candle lighting ceremony was held in observance of all activities that fall within the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children (25 November – 10 December), namely the World Aids Day (1 December), International Disability Day (3 December) and to remember people who succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic.
The acting Regional Commissioner: KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Kenneth Mthombeni thanked the custodians of the event for a well-organized and successful event, and also encouraged the officials in attendance to take home what they have learned in this session and implement the resolutions.