College of Human Sciences

New head of IGS shares expertise on gender-based violence

Prof Nokuthula Mazibuko (Head: Institute for Gender Studies, Unisa), Minister Bathabile Dlamini (Department of Women) and Dr Khanyisile Litchfield-Chabalala (African spirituality expert)

On 26 April 2019, the national Department of Women invited Prof Nokuthula Mazibuko, the newly appointed Head of Unisa’s Institute for Gender Studies (IGS), to the launch of its public hearings on gender based-violence (GBV) in Atteridgeville. Mazibuko was chosen because of her research expertise on domestic violence and femicide and to showcase the work of the institute.

The Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Bathabile Dlamini, launched the public hearings as a step towards ending the silence that allows GBV to continue unabated. She explained that "through initiatives like the public hearings on all forms of gender-based violence, the Department of Women hopes to make GBV a household conversation so that all citizens understand both the physical and psychological effects of violence against women".

Mazibuko was part of the public hearing programme under the commission for domestic violence and femicide. She engaged the Atteridgeville community, acknowledging that the topic of domestic violence and femicide fell within her research area of interest, and explaining what domestic violence and femicide are, how to identify them, what to do when they occur and the reading material available for community members.

According to Dlamini, the public hearings will also allow society to gather and collectively shed the veil of shame, reduce notions of abandonment, and offer support to victims and survivors of GBV.

Dr Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala is of the view that GBV, particularly within the South African context, traces its origins back to colonial settlers, the idea of a man wearing the pants, and the woman being subservient to the man. The ideology was to dismantle the African family unit in the name of patriarchy. Therefore, the oppressive symbols behind the metaphor - the man being the one who wears the pants in the household - became the adopted reality of African family structure.

From the engagement with the community, Mazibuko reflected deeply on matters that arose from some community members, who came to the public hearing hoping to attain immediate help with their everyday challenges. She felt that it was necessary that prestigious institutions of higher learning should be using their influence to enforce progressive policies on GBV and declare their support and involvement in communities, through projects like these public hearings.

* By Katlego Pilane, Assistant Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Human Sciences

Publish date: 2019/05/13