MPs call for more action against gender-based violence
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Cape Town – Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says government had pumped in billions of rands over the three years to tackle gender-based violence and femicide.
Gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has been recognised as a second pandemic in South Africa.
During the debate on Thursday in the National Assembly on the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, MPs spoke out against the scourge of GBVF in the country.
Zulu kicked off the engagement by saying the debate was important, particularly for building safer communities and realising gender equality through the socio-economic empowerment of women and youth.
“We are on a journey to change the fortunes of people, but in particular to focus on issues which remain an annual pain.
“We come to this House to repeat the same thing with the hope that the nation will finally hear the cries of women and children who find themselves in these difficult situations of gender-based violence,” she said.
According to Zulu, more focus should be on what to do as a country to end the scourge and have women and children feeling safe, whether it be in urban and rural areas, day and night, irrespective of where they are.
A 2017 report by an advisory company estimated that GBVF cost the country an estimate of R42.4 billion.
In March 2020 Cabinet adopted the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBV 2019 - 2024, a strategic response on violence that targets GBVF victims.
The plan consists of six pillars which include the NSP being institutionalised through the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.
Other pillars include the implementation of violence-prevention programmes as well as interventions that strengthen social cohesion efforts towards our society’s moral regeneration; granting victims of GBVF access to qualitatively improved justice, safety and protection measures; ensuring that every survivor of GBVF has access to appropriate and sensitive response, care and support towards her/his immediate, medium, and long-term healing; realising gender equality through the socio-economic empowerment of women of all ages and integrating all strategic and multi-disciplinary research processes and related information systems on GBVF into one coordinated resource and repository.
DA MP Nazley Sharif questioned who in the ANC government would stand before the House to take accountability “for their failures”.
“If you are going to run with this theme, you must submit yourself to being held accountable without sounding defensive and pathetic.
“If you are going to sign off on this theme, you must be able to come here and admit your failures before we can take you seriously,” Sharif told the House.
She added that the fight against GBVF was stagnant as it took months of nagging and putting pressure on government officials for things to happen.
Omphile Maotwe of the EFF said of major concern was that not all cases of GBV were being reported. “Thousands of sexual assault cases do not get reported to police stations. We also know that of the reported cases, only a fraction of these perpetrators will be prosecuted. This country is failing women.”
She said Police Minister Bheki Cele reported a few weeks on the quarterly crime statistics there were more than 10 000 cases of sexual offences. This was the tip of the iceberg as there were other cases that were not reported.
Maotwe also said there were many women who were brutally killed, including Nosicelo Mtebeni, a student at the University of Fort Hare, who was dismembered by her boyfriend Alutha Pasile. The High Court in East London slapped Pasile with a 25-year jail sentence.
Flavio Hlabangwane was also facing a murder trial after a woman’s body parts were found at his home in Soweto, she said.
Maotwe said these were shocking cases and that the law had to be firm on criminals.
Freedom Plus Plus member Tamarin Breedt said GBV had been debated more than 12 times since the start of the sixth parliament, but not much had come of it.
“What tangible difference have these campaigns, debates and talk shops brought to women and child victims of abuse? None.
“GBV is up and it is unacceptable,” she said.
GOOD Party member Shaun August said boys needed from a young age to be raised with a mindset of respecting girls.