Bishop Sipuka: Look at Root Causes of Femicide
By Magdalene Kahiu – AS South Africa struggles to curb alarming rates of gender-based killings targeting women and girls, a bishop has highlighted the need to identify the root cause of violence targeting women for an appropriate way out of the societal challenge.
“In my view we need to get to the root cause of femicide so that we know what we are addressing,” said Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha on the sidelines of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
“There are a lot of speculations about [femicide], but I wish somebody could do a true analytic study on it,” Bishop Sipuka, who is the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, told ACI Africa in an interview.
South Africa has, in recent times, experienced considerably higher levels of femicide, with the 2017/18 statistics by Africa Check showing that every three hours, a woman is murdered in the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on parliament to pass a law that will prevent suspects charged with rape and murder to be granted bail while harsher sentences will be passed on convicts of these offences.
According to Bishop Sipuka, whatever the reasons for the violence against women, it is all wrong and it is not the way to solve problems.
“It is so gruesome the way men are violent to women. It is something that mesmerises us,” said the bishop, who is also the first vice-president of SECAM.
“Men in Africa should just stop the violence and be what men should be,” he said.
“Culturally, men are meant to protect rather than to victimise. From the Christian point of view, men should take the model of St Joseph who protected the vulnerable members of his family and provided for them.”
As a way forward, Bishop Sipuka said the South African Council of Churches is planning to hold an interdenominational gathering of Christian men to speak against violence targeting women.
He also noted that a collective effort from the various Christian denominations is needed to win this fight, saying: “If the Catholic Church as the minority in South Africa stands alone, we will not succeed. We will collaborate with other Churches and see what we can do together to mobilise men and to speak to them.”