Pretoria – Government has reiterated its commitment to the fight against gender-based violence.
Responding to an online report in the Mail and Guardian (26 February 2013) that some ministers were absent during this week’s debate on gender-based violence in the National Assembly, acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) spokesperson, Phumla Williams, said government had taken a number of decisive steps to show its dedication to ending the scourge of gender-based violence.
“Government did participate in the political debate, of which speakers, including the Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, were drawn from represented political parties that may not have been portfolio driven, as in the case of a ministerial budget vote.
“The fact that certain ministers did not speak during a parliamentary debate does not reflect government’s attitude towards tackling this scourge,” said Williams.
The Mail and Guardian report quoted an opposition MP as saying that the absence of some ministers was symptomatic of a lack of leadership in dealing with this serious issue.
“This is incorrect,” said Williams, adding that government had put in place various initiatives that were geared towards eliminating violence against women and children.
These initiatives, Williams said, included the establishment of the National Council against Gender-Based Violence, which will provide strategic leadership, coordination and monitoring of gender-based violence initiatives. Deputy President Kgalema Mothlante is the patron and the council is convened at a high level.
This week, President Jacob Zuma launched the Stop Rape in Schools campaign, run by the Department of Basic Education (DBE), in partnership with LEAD SA.
“It is the responsibility of everyone in society to fight abuse. The DBE, in partnership with LEAD SA, are jointly leading a major initiative to raise rape awareness and educate the estimated 10.2 million learners in South African schools,” said Williams.
Partnerships such as these represented government’s extreme commitment to raising awareness about human rights and highlighting the need for children to respect the Constitution and the values it espouses, including respect for the next person and respect in particular for women and girls and their rights to safety and security.
“Now is the time for collective action and partnership to eradicate gender-based violence, not a time to score political points at the expense of efforts to work together to eradicate this scourge,” said Williams. – SAnews.gov.za