Sonke Gender Justice is calling on the government to take effective and pragmatic steps to combat the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.
Sonke welcomes the decision by the SA legislature to set up time in parliament for a debate on the scourge of GBV and femicides. Given the gravity of this situation we trust that our public representatives will not use this information for cheap political point scoring or politics of grandstanding. Lives of women and girls deserve better.
The scale of gender-based violence in South Africa is high and unacceptable. The latest South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics revealed that sexual offences increased by 4.6% compared to the previous financial year.
The statistics also revealed that even with the gross underreporting 52 420 sexual offences were reported. This means that an average of 144 sexual offences were reported daily.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces to discuss a possible approach to combating gender-based violence.
However, the government has previously made commitments to combat gender-based violence in name only. Thus far gender-based violence specific programmes within government ministries have yielded very little progress.
The government needs a renewed strategy relating to the prevention of gender-based violence, the care of its survivors and the response to incidents of gender-based violence, and this is why Sonke is calling on the national government to take its call for a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence seriously.
The implementation of a fully funded multi-sectoral National Strategic Plan will ensure that prevention programmes that deal with dangerous gender norms are rolled out, but most importantly, the NSP will ensure that gender-based violence is addressed on multiple levels; including prevention and intervention efforts emanating from both government and civil society.
Bystander programmes, community mobilisation, and early intervention and response, including good quality psycho social support to survivors have all been shown to prevent violence effectively.
Government has identified the harmful use of alcohol and other substances as a major contributing factor to crime and violence in our country, especially male violence against women.
At the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Summit last year, the President said that measures to address this issue must be improved. There are three pending Bills which are alcohol-related – the Control Of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill, the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, and the National Liquor Amendment Bill.
We call on the Presidency to work with the respective departments responsible for these Bills – the Department of Health, the Department of Transport, and the Department of Trade and Industry – to fast-track the processing of the Bills because we believe they will lead to a significant reduction in the harmful use of alcohol and the associated crimes of violence against women.
We trust that our public representatives will take this opportunity to show leadership on a matter that is a national crisis.