Taking action against Gender Based Violence and Femicide in the Western Cape
I am angry, I am completely outraged at the level of Gender Based Violence taking place in South Africa today.
The crime statistics released this morning paint a bleak picture of just how dire the situation is.
The amount of rape cases in South Africa has increased by 3.9% from the previous financial year, from 40 035 during the 2017.18 financial year to 41 583. Sexual assault increased by 9.6%, attempted Sexual offences increased by 3.9% and contact sexual offences by 2,7%.
4649 women were reported to have been raped in the Western Cape of which 205, were between the ages of 0-9 years honorable Speaker… This is an indictment on our society. It is the shame of our nation.
Last week, we witnessed approximately 20 000 protestors converging outside the National Assembly, in condemnation to the ongoing violence and abuse being experienced by our women in society. After years of women’s cries merely falling on deaf ears, the President addressed the women of our nation.
In the words of the President himself:
- He has promised to overhaul the National registra
rof Sex Offenders gender The President also highlighted that he will ask Parliament to consider national register will be made public (amendment to the constitution)
- Harsher minimum sentences for Gender based violence and violence against children
- State should appose bail for those who have raped and murder women.
- Life imprisonment for acts of rape and killing of women – where life means life, with no parole
- All Gender-Based Violence cases that have been closed will be re-opened and reviewed.
- The President promised an intergovernmental approach to providing rapid response to women
- The introduction of emergency response teams for LGBTQ and abuse against women and children
- That rape test kits will be available at all police stations.
- Implementation of a national plan to address Gender-Based violence through school programs, health and social development departments.
- Minister of Finance will be asked to provide additional funding against Gender-Based Violence. To quote the President “We are going to find the money” unquote.
- The President will ask parliament to debate the implementation of emergency interventions against Gender-Based Violence.
As a nation, we wait in keen anticipation to see whether these commitments are fulfilled, as no time-frames were given.
We need all spheres of society to come together to ultimately address gender-based violence. Our nation has the legislation and institutions to support the empowerment of women, promote gender equality and oppose oppression and all forms of violence against females. Yet, violence is still being experienced by women on a daily basis.
For far too many years there have been thousands, if not millions of women in our country, who have been forced to remain silent in the face of ongoing abuse and violence that they have experienced but also witness on a daily basis.
In my honest opinion honourable speaker,
I think we have moved beyond domestic silence… PAUSE!
The heart-breaking situation of UCT student Nene at the Post-Office was just the tip of the ice-berg with regards to how gender-based violence has reached a tipping-point in South African society, in that it is happening in public spaces. In our malls, public toilets, schools, our libraries and even legislatures across South Africa and globally.
Now more than ever, we need to lead with purpose and intention however, government cannot solve this problem alone, it requires a whole-of-society approach that includes all role-players working together.
As a government we are working transversally to deal with the scourge of Gender Based Violence. One such initiative, is making use of weekly mortuary figures (from the provincial Department of Health to keep the Province up to date with the true nature of the situation. Although at many times these figures have been high, the public deserves honesty and as government strives to be transparent.
I would hate to think what the real numbers would read if all provinces adopted a similar approach?
I implore all roleplayers – from police to social workers to prosecutors – to take seriously the threat to women and to not allow these cases to fall through the cracks. We need a concerted effort to deal with protection orders effectively. We need to listen to our children when they alert us to an issue of abuse.
A key contributor to the scourge of violence being experienced across many of our communities is the scourge of substance and alcohol abuse… The vast majority of lawlessness being experienced in our society is a consequence of drug and alcohol related crime…
Drug related crime data for the Western Cape indicates an increase from 52 742 cases in 2009 to 81 344 cases according to the crime statistics released this morning
We ought not to be scared about having conversations about re-evaluating the criminal justice system… At this level, we certainly do need to look at the sentences are imposed on perpetrators who get away with raping a women and child. However, I do not think the death penalty is the solution… We need to focus on prevention and intervention solutions as to why individuals are resorting to these horrific acts of violence in the first place.
Who would want to come forward with evidence of being raped or sexually abused, when they are fully aware that they would be putting themselves at far greater risk because of the likelihood of the perpetrator walking free with no bail.
How do we deter the very criminals who are holding our communities at ransom, when the biggest deterrent to them committing crime - that is, the possibility of one going to jail for life- is not working at all…
There is no hiding the fact Honourable speaker…
That we indeed are a broken society. Intergenerational trauma is real and that the entire justice system needs an overhaul.
The responsibility doesn’t solely rest on government rolling out VEP programmes and partnering with shelters… We need to start having these difficult conversations in our homes crèches, in our schools, the workplace and in our legislature’s and even government departments.
The challenge we face is huge but not insurmountable!
However, it requires a whole of society approach. To that end, I must extend my sincere thanks to NGOs, councellors, CPFs, NHWs, communities and all other stakeholders who contribute to supporting vicitms of Gender-based Violence and ensuring that we work together to eradicate the scourge of Gender Based Violence.
Today I say… ENOUGH is ENOUGH!
I thank you!
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949