Government will this week convene a Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide in a bid to raise awareness and end the scourge of violence against women and children that has reached “worrying proportions” in the country.
According to the latest report released by Statistics South Africa on GBV, 70 813 women experienced sexual offences in 2016/2017 as compared to 31 665 in 2015/2016. This is over 100% increase in violence against women and children.
Despite a number of interventions, including legislation, policies, programmes, community-based dialogues and awareness campaigns, made by government over the years, the country continues to witness high levels of violence against women and children.
In July this year, government, together with a number of civil society organisations and churches, called a 100 Men March to raise awareness, and get men to join in the fight against violence.
This was followed by a TotalShutdown March on 01 August, where participants of the march presented a set of 24 demands to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Among the demands was that the President should convene a Gender-Based Violence Summit.
Responding to this demand, President Ramaphosa appointed his special advisor working with the Department of Justice to lead the process to convene the summit.
The summit is scheduled to take place from 1 – 2 November 2018 at St Georges Hotel in Centurion, Tshwane.
Over 1000 delegates, including various representatives from civil society organisations, traditional leaders, academics, faith-based organisations, labour, business, development agencies, media and advertising sector, are expected to attend the summit.
Participants representing the youth, women from both rural and urban areas, and across the country are also expected to attend.
The summit will create a platform of engagement to:
- Reflect critically on initiatives to date and identify actions of improvement;
- Outline a roadmap to a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide;
- Align different initiatives to create mechanisms and processes for effective coordination, planning and implementation beyond the summit; and
- Establish a commitment to resourcing and accountability.
The summit will focus on a number of thematic areas that have been constituted to give structure to the summit discussions.
These areas are: prevention of violence against women; reflect on existing laws and policies; review the current response and support; address accountability, assess resourcing to implement programmes to stop gender- based violence and femicide; and develop communication strategies to raise awareness programmes.
President Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the opening address at the summit.
This will be followed by a number of commissions to thrash out the thematic areas, with the view to come up with resolutions of the summit.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director-General Phumla Williams said that government and civil society agree that the time has come for GBV and femicide to be given the urgency it deserves by all South Africans.
“We call on all citizens and communities to take a stand and support efforts that contribute towards ending GBV and report cases of violence to the authorities,” Williams said. – SAnews.gov.za