Together we can stop violence against women, say speakers at conference
We must all stand together to prevent violence against women.
This was the message of speakers at a conference of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians held on Friday (4 May) at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University (SU). The conference, themed Gender and Education, formed part of the faculty’s HOPE Project Initiative Focus on the Promotion of Human Dignity.
Ms Elizabeth Petersen of the South African Faith and Family Institute said religious leaders, faith communities and non-governmental organisations must work together to bring an end to violence against women.
Collaboration between these groups can help create a space within which women can speak freely about the violence perpetrated against them, she added.
Prof Julie Claassens of SU’s Faculty of Theology criticised the media’s portrayal of men and women, saying it reinforces the notion that masculinity implies dominance and violence.
“We should rather focus on alternative forms of masculinity that include compassion and empathy for other people.”
According to Dr Gerrit Brand, also from the Faculty of Theology, prevailing views of masculinity contribute to violence against women. The empowerment of women, especially in the workplace, is one of the ways to challenge these ideas, he said.
“We have a fantastic constitution and good legislation, but a lot is lacking in terms of action and implementation with regards to violence against women,” said Ms Ilse Ahrends of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
She is of the view that men commit violence against women to seek power and control, and to hide their own insecurities.
Dr Charlene van der Walt of the Dutch Reformed Church in Maitland said the idea that violence solves conflict contributes to some men beating their wives.
- In November, the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, under whose banner the conference was held, will be hosting a conference themed Towards histories of South African intellectual traditions – the histories and life trajectories of coloured / ‘coloured’/ intellectuals.