The North-West University’s (NWU’s) Employee Relations and Wellness division recently hosted a webinar aimed at educating staff and students on how to maintain healthy relationships.
Dr Shanaaz Hoosain, a senior lecturer in social work at the University of Cape Town, and Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, author and the United Nation’s special rapporteur on the right to health, addressed the NWU community.
Dr Hoosain’s topic was “Intergenerational violence: What about the boys”, and Dr Mofokeng spoke about sexual pleasure and sexual health. Staff and students also had the opportunity to ask questions and to share their experiences anonymously.
GBV in South Africa
According to Dr Hoosain, gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa is intergenerational, as grandmothers, mothers and daughters have all experienced some sort of violence.
She said it is very important to break this cycle of violence and prevent it being transferred from one generation to another.
“Approximately 30% of children who have experienced GBV and are not supported or spoken to, tend to become a victim or perpetrator of GBV later in life.”
She added that children who witness violence in their homes often suffer from anxiety and depression.
Dr Hoosain also explained that the United Nations classified GBV during Covid-19 lockdown as the shadow pandemic, because women and children across the globe were isolated with their abusers with no place to hide or to run to.
“Since the inception of lockdown there has been an immense increase in GBV and a heightened demand for emergency shelters.”
Consent is key
Dr Mofokeng emphasised that when it comes to sex, consent is very important.
“Sex is pleasurable, but before one can enjoy it, there needs to be consent. In South Africa we need to understand what consent sounds and looks like.”
She said that when it comes to sex, many women are often dictated to on what their bodies should do and look like, and by the time they engage in sexual activity, they feel disempowered.
She added that even though the number of women infected and affected by HIV/Aids in South Africa exceeds that of men, the tools to help protect them are not controlled by women.
“Women often find it difficult to access female contraceptives, where male contraceptives such as condoms are readily available.”
Dr Mofokeng appealed to the media to use the correct terminology when reporting on stories of rape, sexual harassment and assault. She also highlighted the need for more research on sexuality and sexual health within the South African context.