Activists welcome political will to fight gender-based violence

Friday, November 2, 2018

Delegates at the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) have welcomed government’s commitment and political will towards ending the high incidence of violence against women in the country.

“Yesterday when the President walked in the room, there was a little bit of hostility, but towards the end of his speech, there was a better sense of political commitment, at least from our political principals,” said Bongiwe Ndondo from Joint Gender Fund.

Ndondo said this on the second and last day of the summit, currently underway in Centurion, Tshwane.

She acknowledged government’s commitment towards meeting the demands presented to President Cyril Ramaphosa during the #TotalShutdown march.

On 1 August 2018, participants of the march presented a set of 24 demands to President Ramaphosa, demanding, among other things, that he convene a Gender-Based Violence Summit.

Delegates acknowledged existing facilities established by government to assist victims of gender-based violence, these include the Thuthuzela Care Centres, White and Green Door Centres, Gender-Based Violence Command Centre and Lifeline, which offers a quick turn around time with regards to call management and accessible after hours and weekends.

Better psycho-social support services

However, they said there was an urgent need to expand the availability and quality of psycho-social support services available to survivors and a special complaints line for people unhappy with the services they received at the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre.

Stakeholders called for more efficient shelters for victims, as well as for them to accommodate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community.

There was a need for a funding model for gender-based violence which will respond and assist in strengthening gender-based violence programmes.

They further called for the establishment of an overarching multi-sectoral, multi-level GBV structure to drive accountability at the highest level.

Disciplinary rapid response team

Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa Dr Nardos Bekele Thomas recommended the establishment of a multi-disciplinary, rapid response deployment team which would be on call and ready to assist women when emergencies occurred.

“It should be timely and efficient. It should seek to end a culture of hopelessness and corruption,” Thomas said.

She commended the victims of gender-based violence who had shared their stories on Thursday, noting that “behind every incident reported, there are lives that are devastated”.

“It’s not a single life that is affected, but the lives of those close to the victim. One act of violence … is one act of destroying a family, a community, and a nation,” Thomas said. –