Break the silence, speak out against abuse

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cape Town – Home Affairs Minister Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize has called on the survivors of gender based violence to speak out against abuse.

She said this when the National Assembly held a debate on the scourge of violence against women and children on Thursday.

Also participating in the debate, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that victims of rape will from now on be interviewed by trained female police officers.

Minister Mkhize said domestic violence is a shame of our times and that it is sad that during Children Protection Week, South Africa learns about gruesome acts of violence against women and children.

“…I appeal to all survivors of gender based violence in our communities, in both urban and rural areas, to break the silence, speak out and expose these perpetrators.

“Our communities should become a human shield and … [against] the violation of children and mobilise for action. Gains made so far give us hope, and we believe this battle of gender based violence will be won if we work together,” she said.

The Minister said families and friends, who live with the survivors of these brutal attacks, often carry the pain that the victims go through. They bear the brunt of emotional costs.

She said the cost of gender based violence negatively affects the country’s Gross Domestic Product because it is well established that long term consequences of victimization affect productivity.

Poverty is a major cause of vulnerability to gender based violence, the Minister said, given that young women are also lured with promises of better social and economic opportunities.

She said government has done all it can to ensure that perpetrators of violent crime are held accountable.

“Strategic centres such as Thuthuzela centres have been established using donor money for victim empowerment.

“Government has also invested in the training of officials in the criminal justice system to ensure proper implementation of our laws. Government will continue to intervene to ensure the integrated criminal justice system works, for greater impact specifically in stopping this anarchy,” she said.

Rape victims to be interviewed by trained female police officers

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said the killing of women because they are female threatens the country’s national security.

He said the scourge makes the majority of the population – women – live in fear of being attacked, which in turn destroys gender balance, economic progress and harmony.

The Minister said he has instructed police to deal with it as a priority crime. 

“Police will work tirelessly to fight against domestic violence. Enough is enough. Your pain is our pain. As men, we walk in shame. We need practical changes and we have resolved that women get legal, social and psychological support. This will ensure that we create a specialised response to this crime. We will do all our best to keep you safe in your homes.

“To increase the effectiveness of our response to this scourge, we have now resolved to make drastic changes to how we handle the cases of domestic abuse and rape. We have now ensured that victims’ interviews are done by trained female police.

“Interviews of such crimes will not take place at a police station, including the medical examination. Also, evidence will be collected by women police and all victims of offences will be referred to victim support programmes,” he said.

The Minister said women must not hide behind the shame of domestic violence. Rape and gender-based violence are regarded as fundamental threats to security and will be treated as a priority crime, the Minister said.

“Domestic violence, rape and the killing of women by men are a dishonour to our freedom and our democracy. We have a political will to fight this scourge. Let us denounce patriarchy. Boys you are, because women are,” he said. –

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