In their statement signed by Bishop Victor Phalana who heads SACBC’s Justice and Peace Commission, the Bishops have confirmed media reports and highlighted the killing “of a University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing champion, Leighandre Jegels who was shot and killed by her police officer boyfriend.”
“Over the past few weeks, the country has witnessed unapparelled incidence of mindless and callous killings of innocent women and girls,” the Bishops have stated.
South Africa seems to be having an alarming rate of femicide, with some widely shared social media indicating that a woman is murdered every 4 hours and the 2017/2018 data showing that a woman is murdered every 3 hours in the country.
“Despite our impressive constitution that embraces plurality and equality between men and women, gender and power relations are still skewed in favour of man,” the Catholic Church leaders in Southern Africa have lamented and added, “Male chauvinism, misogynistic tendencies and stereotypes about women are a social pathology that still haunts our country.”
In a message to ACI Africa about the unfortunate crime against women and girls, Bishop Phalana who is the local ordinary of Klerksdorp diocese expressed his disappointment in femicide saying “In the face of gender-based violence (GBV), I want to cry out. Let this cry be read in the parishes of Klerksdorp, in our Catholic families, catechism classes, youth groups, men’s groups and women’s groups.”
He appealed for divine intervention, putting a spotlight on male perpetrators of the crime.
“May God help us - men - to be freed and delivered from toxic masculinity and cultural norms that encourage the exploitation of women,” Bishop Phalana said and called on those of male gender to “fight alongside women and girls - against women abuse.”
Addressing the possible causes of femicide, Bishop Phalana prayed that God delivers men “from the spirit of jealousy and possessiveness.”
He also implored God to save men from the tendency to want to control women, which he described as “the need to control women and their finances, their dreams, their resources and their worth.”
“May God free us – men – from our abuse of power and authority which tries to keep women oppressed and unequal,” the South African bishop of Klerksdorp prayed through his message to ACI Africa Friday.