25/07/2017 17:26 SAST | Updated 26/07/2017 11:43 SAST

Susan Shabangu: We All Need To 'Break The Silence' Around Violence In Our Communities

It's not just government's responsibility, she said.

Susan Shabangu.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Susan Shabangu.

Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, called on society as a whole to become more involved in fighting the plague of violence against women and children.

She praised religious leaders for getting involved. "Any war, any battle, any challenge you are facing you can't face it alone. We need various sectors of society in fighting challenges that we are fighting right now," she said.

Shabangu was speaking at a briefing when Rhema Church launched a campaign against violence against women and children at the Palazzo Hotel in Johannesburg. Media mogul, Basetsana Khumalo, and Section27's Mark Heywood were among representatives from civil society, religious organisations and state departments pledging to support the campaign.

The minister said seeing civil society and religious leaders come together shows that South Africans have "reached a cul-de-sac where they can't move beyond this [violence]".

Shabangu told HuffPost SA although her department has many initiatives in place to curb the violence, the work they do will never be enough.

"If you been observing since 1994 there are various laws that have been passed, various actions, sixteen days of activism, many campaigns, shelters for women funded by government through social development."

She continued: "These are the actions but it's not enough, it's only enough when we have mobilised society as a whole."

She said women, neighbours and communities needed to "break the silence" around domestic violence.

Mark Heywood spoke about the socio-economic issues that are faced by people in poor communities. He made an example of Dieplsoot north of Johannesburg, a place where abuse of women and children is rife.

"I am glad to be here at this hotel but just 10km from here, there is a hell-hole in Diepsloot," he said.

Heywood continued: "We must see that it is not somebody else's campaign, it is not the problem of the gender based violence NGO's -- it is all our problems".

Shabangu shared Heywood's sentiments about socio- economic conditions that contribute to women staying in abusive relationship.

"If we can make sure that abuse of women is not delinked from the economic empowerment of women we will get it right. My department, it is our responsibility in making sure that as well as we deal with social challenges, but also economic empowerment", she said at the launch.

Grace Bible Church Bishop Musa Sono said a similar program was launched for his congregation earlier this month.

Sono says the pastoral approach has been taken to help abusive men, and there have been cases where they changed their ways after coming to faith.

The official launch for the project will be taking place at Rhema Bible Church on Sunday.