Traditional leaders can help end GBV

High rate of abusive relationships among rural women (file photo)

About 80% of South African women who live in rural areas are in abusive relationships, says Nolwazi Dlamini, the Research and Evaluator Manager at KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development.

Dlamini was speaking during a webinar on the vital role of traditional healers in ending gender-based violence(GBV). The discussion, hosted by the KwaZulu Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department, also focused on the contribution of customs like ukuthwala.

End child marriages

Traditional leaders must advocate to end the custom, like Ukuthwala, which goes against legislation such as the Children’s Act and cannot be recognised under the Customary Marriage Act, says Chief Director of Traditional Governance and Conflict Management, Nathi Mpungose,

Ukuthwala involves abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage. The custom is widely practised in KZN and the Eastern Cape.

“All the cultures of communities agree that no woman must go through this practice without her permission or understanding and readiness. No woman under  18  years of age must be subjected to this practice. No school-going girl irrespective of age must be subjected to this practice,” Mpungose says.

He says that new legislation needs to be drafted to deal with ukuthwala. Chiefs must take part in campaigns that teach communities how this practise violates the human rights of young women.

Other traditions can help fight GBV

Mpungose says traditional methods such as camps hosted by chiefs to socialise boys and teach them about how to treat women could help.

KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders chair, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza says these camps will create boys who know that violence is not part of cultural practices.

“We have initiatives where we teach boys how to behave and groom them to be better men in society. We teach them that the men are not just men by their biological making but are men through their actions,” Chiliza says.

Reporting cases

Mpungose says that traditional leaders should work with government and report cases of GBV in their areas to the authorities.

Dlamini says that chiefs must be aware that there are various ways to report gender-based violence.

She says people can report cases at Thuthuzela care centres, social workers from government or private institutions, NGOs involved in victim empowerment and at clinics.- Health-e News


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