Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and other officials  at Saturday's rally

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and other officials
at Saturday’s rally

High ranking South African government officials participated in the National Men’s Rally on Saturday to reaffirm their commitment to end gender-based violence and homophobia.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe; Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana; Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele; Deputy Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Obed Bapela and City of Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau were among those who joined the rally at Johannesburg Stadium to add their voices to those fighting the scourge of gender-based violence.

Held under the theme, ‘Not in my name’, the rally sought to encourage men to play an active part in ending violence directed towards women and children.

It also served to mobilise men in taking the lead in changing negative social norms perpetuated in the name of culture and religion.

The rally was organised by Brothers for Life and the South African Aids National Council, which is chaired by Motlanthe.

The Deputy President called on men to take a firm stand against gender-based violence, and for those who witness it not to turn a blind eye.

He acknowledged that it was not only women and children who were at the receiving end of abuse, but that it affected those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual and intersexed (LGBTI) community.

The ad campaign promoting the event prominently included the slogan “No homophobia in my name”.

Echoing Motlanthe’s sentiments, Xingwana called on everyone who was experiencing gender-based violence to speak out.

“Men and boys also experience gender-based violence. We therefore encourage men to break the silence and report these crimes.

“This scourge requires us as society, men, women, government and civil society, together through coordinated concerted efforts, to maximally put together resources to support programmes to curb this scourge that has become a disease in our society,” she said.

The minister added that one of the key perpetuators of violence was the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

“We jointly should fight the use of drugs … that are causing instability amongst our youth in our communities. It is time to reclaim our communities and instil the culture of ubuntu amongst our youth.”

According to the 2012 South African Police Service statistics, 64 514 sexual offences occurred between April 2011 and March 2012, meaning a staggering 176 cases per day.

Xingwana called on men to commit their names to the Brothers for Life pledge. Those present at the rally signed a pledge committing to help break the cycle of women and child abuse.

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