Presiding Officers call for GBV to be declared national crisis

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Presiding Officers of Parliament say the institution must and will do all it can to have gender based violence (GBV) declared a national crisis.

The Presiding Officers -- Speaker Thandi Modise of the National Assembly and Chairperson Amos Masondo of the National Council of Provinces -- said the criminal justice system must embrace a business unusual approach in dealing with this scourge.

“Women and girls of our nation have a reason to be afraid and gutted for feeling unsecure. As South Africans, we cannot claim to be free when 55% of the population is living in daily fear of being raped, murdered and abducted,” Modise and Masondo said.

The Presiding Officers also called upon all members of society, men and boys in particular, to take responsibility for creating a society free from all forms of violence against women.

Parliament has described the recent spate of brutal killings of young women by men as barbarism that must be condemned and fought by all peace loving South Africans.

The Presiding Officers condemned the murders of University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana and world boxing champion, Leighandre Jegels as senseless killings that should be met with the full might of the law.

“It is shocking and disturbing to hear about such intensity of violence perpetrated against women by men,” Modise and Masondo said.

Both Presiding Officers were part of a Women’s Parliament held in the National Assembly last week that called for the declaration of gender-based violence as a national crisis in South Africa, so that emergency interventions and sustenance plans can be successfully executed.

“South Africa cannot afford to sloganeer and lament when women and girl children continue to die at the hands of men, most of whom are known to them. It is clear that a war has been declared against women and girl children, and therefore it cannot be business as usual.

“Extraordinary interventions are called upon to bring an end to these senseless acts of lawlessness. This is a crisis and a war must be waged against these perpetrators to send a message of zero tolerance.”

Parliament has extended its heartfelt condolences to the Mrwetyana, Jegels and other families of victims of GBV, and wished them strength during these trying times.

Men campaign to curb GBV 

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) will be embarking on a campaign throughout the country engaging both boys and men about their role in ending GBV, which seems to be going on unabated.

“We hope through this campaign, boys will grow up being reasonable citizens who respect human rights and understand that women’s rights are also human rights,” CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi said.

During the Women’s Month in August, the Commission used various media and platforms to highlight the worrying and increasing numbers of GBV and femicide cases and other related atrocities.

Through the CGE’s outreach and legal clinics, the Commission was able to heighten awareness about various forms of abuse as a way of educating and also assisting those in need of free legal advice on issues including GBV, maintenance, estates, domestic violence, rape and other gender related matters. –