Defeating gender-based violence requires collective approach

Friday, November 30, 2018

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says defeating the high levels of gender-based violence in the country requires all South Africans to roll up their sleeves.

The Minister said this when she led a debate on the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children in the National Assembly on Thursday. The debate took place under the theme #HearMeToo – a woman of fortitude.

Zulu said gender-based violence is a societal challenge that destroys women across race and class. It requires societal intervention.

“To defeat the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence requires the collective effort of all South Africans. Individually and collectively, we must commit ourselves to everything in our power to reclaim every part of our land from those who terrorise women and children,” she said.

The country has a Constitution, part of which responds to the rights of women through founding provisions such as human dignity, achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights.

The founding provisions demand of all South Africans to respond to the clarion call that “together we must make a solemn pledge that we will liberate our homes, streets, workplaces, religious institutions and every corner of society from the scourge of gender-based violence”.

The Minister said “we must isolate and frown upon all who turn a blind eye to acts of abuse against women and children”.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is commemorated annually between 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - and 10 December - International Human Rights Day - to raise awareness about the negative impact of violence on women and children and to act against abuse.

Government, civil-society organisations and the business sector work together to broaden the impact of the campaign every year. By supporting this campaign, thousands of South Africans have also helped to increase awareness of abuse and build support for victims and survivors of abuse.

Zulu said in the 24 years of the country’s democracy, government has made significant progress in fighting gender-based violence by formulating and promulgating substantive legislative and policy frameworks.

“No one can contest our assertion that in 24 years of freedom and democracy, the ANC-led government has registered significant progress in restoring the dignity of women. Through our progressive policies, the living conditions for the majority of women have undergone significant, qualitative change.

“Women now occupy their rightful places in society and are able to exercise rights and access opportunities that were a dream only about 24 years ago,” she said.

However, violence against women and children still threatens to reverse all these gains and to derail the country’s national effort to promote women empowerment and gender equality.

She said that the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 was promulgated to provide mechanisms to deal with subliminal forms of domestic violence such as emotional and financial abuse, threats and intimidation.

The Act, Zulu said, also provides for a witness of domestic violence to report to the law enforcement agencies.

Another law, the Criminal Law Amendment or the Sexual Offences Related Matters Act 32 of 2007, provides for gender neutral definitions of rape victims and for special protection for survivors.

She said the Criminal Procedure Act 51 was promulgated in 1997 and provides for the procedural mechanism for the prosecution of criminal activities which encompasses acts of violence perpetrated against women.

“Despite all these efforts, we remain painfully aware that much more still needs to be done. Although South Africa has enacted progressive legislation, as well as introduce measures to deal with gender forms of violence, we know as a matter of fact that violence against women and children remains a reality.

“We must respect, appreciate and love women and children 365 days a year. Government’s strategic approach to the 16 days of activism campaign is guided by lessons of those who fought for the struggle before us.” –