Gender Commission’s response to Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane -Zulu’s unfortunate comment that “Women are equally guilty for gender-based violence”

Release Date: 09 December 2019

To: Editors, Producers and Reporters

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has noted with shock the utterances attributed to the Deputy Minister (DM) of the Department of Social Development (DSD) Ms Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu that “women are not only victims, but also contributors [to GBV]. We raise angry boys. We all equally guilty.” The CGE finds this comment from a law maker, if it is true, to be very sad. Not only is she a custodian of the constitution in a department that is supposed to lead the response to GBV, she missed an important opportunity to educate and reframe the narrative that positions women as responsible for the violence they endure.

Women continue to bear the brunt of violence, many die and those who survive experience long-term consequences that in many instances are life-long. In a country where violence against women has reached alarming proportions.  The comments are a form of victim blaming as they attribute gender-based violence equally to mothers as perpetrators of the violence perpetrated against them. This advances the patriarchal idea that victims who are mothers (and women in general) are to blame for the violence they suffer without asking why women currently bear a disproportionate burden of raising children alone in South Africa. We have to guard against conflating healthy emotional expressions such as anger in adults including

children (as there is a lot in this country to be angry about) and criminal conduct such as feminicide.

The CGEs hearings in the past week have revealed systemic and structural failures within various departments including the failure of the Department of Social Development to lead in victim centred approaches to gender-based violence and victim empowerment programmes. It would be prudent for the Department and the Deputy Minister to take proactive action in relation to the issues raised by the CGE in its hearings.

The CGE will be seeking a meeting with the Minister of DSD Honourable Lindiwe Zulu about the findings of the investigative report on the state of shelters and also update her about the submissions of both the National DSD and Provincial DSDs in the hearings currently underway.