It’s that time of year again – when the boys at the bar roll their eyes and chug their booze, possibly cracking a sexist joke or two before doing their best to ignore the brutal reality of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa.
But, “not all men…”, they’ll argue, just before reminding the world that yes, men also get abused by women … and why is nobody talking about that?
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The reality is that men – of all colours, religions and political persuasions – are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence against women and children. And while “not all men” ball their fists and punch, slap and kick or even shoot and stab, it is the broader community of men who are the enablers for the rapists, murderers and abusers.
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It is that broader community which turns a blind eye to the sexist jokes around the braai or in the office. It is that broader community which glimpses, or hears about, domestic violence and walks away, muttering “Not my problem…” But it is your problem, boet.
It is a problem for all of us because GBV costs this country money … money which could make your life better. According to a report titled Too Costly to Ignore – the Economic Impact of Gender-Based Violence in SA, by KPMG’s human and social services department, GBV costs South Africa between R28.4 billion and R42.4 billion per year.
The economic future of the country is also in jeopardy, if you consider that the children who are abuse victims, or witnesses to abuse, may themselves be so scarred emotionally and psychologically that they won’t be able to function optimally in society.
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This will either cost taxpayer money in caring for them, or our business system money in terms of lost productivity. That’s the picture “all men” must start seeing.