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22 May 2009 14:58
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille on Friday said sexism and misogyny were rife in South African society, and accused President Jacob Zuma of setting a bad example.
Citing a recent study into the sexual behaviour of the youth by the University of Stellenbosch, she said some 27% of the youth surveyed thought “they could prevent HIV infection if they bathed after sex”.
“One wonders [silently] where they got that idea from.
Asking that question aloud would attract another week-long misdirected uproar to divert us from the real issues,” Zille said in her weekly newsletter.
“This statistic is a sharp reminder of the powerful impact that the behaviour of leaders has on young people. It also explains why a leader’s personal conduct should be subject to scrutiny if it has public consequences.
“But in South Africa we prefer respecting taboos rather than facing facts.”
Zille outraged the ANC and its allies earlier this month when she said Zuma was a self-confessed womaniser who by his own admission, in his rape trial in 2007, had sex with an HIV-positive woman without using a condom, thereby exposing his wives to the virus.
The new Western Cape premier made the remark after she came under fire from the ruling party for appointing only men to her executive team in the province.
The row put paid to Zuma’s call for better relations between the ANC and the opposition.
On Thursday ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party had refused to give the DA the chairmanship of any of Parliament’s new portfolio committees because Zille had shown disrespect to Zuma.
Zille has insisted that she appointed her ministers because they were the best people for the job.
And she has dismissed calls to place women in the Western Cape as hypocritical, saying the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions were run by men and the organisations had failed to address deep-seated sexism in society.
Zille said the myths that washing or taking the contraceptive pill could prevent HIV infection were “convenient for the large number of South African men who believe that multiple, unprotected sexual encounters are their right. Such men have no interest in challenging these myths.
“When research like this emerges, it is clear how thin our constitutional veneer is in South Africa. Just scratch the surface and the real SA emerges.”
Zille said crude attacks on her on a Facebook site that listed ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu as one of its administrators, exposed “such depths of bigotry and misogyny, that it is almost understandable why gender activists avoid the real issues”.
“In public, we often hear the ANC reciting its mantra of a ‘non-racial, non-sexist society’. The warped set of hateful patriarchal attitudes displayed on this site, perhaps reveals more of the truth.”—Sapa
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