Gender-based violence must be fought with the same intensity as the Covid-19 pandemic
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By Hlulani Mashaba
Johannesburg - The country is set to launch the global 16 Days of Activism campaign for no violence against women and children. This campaign is taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented provincial, national and global outcry, and the killing of women and children by heartless men. To this end, the Gauteng provincial government led by MEC Faith Mazibuko will be launching the campaign at Temba policing precinct in Tshwane on Thursday (((25 November 2021))).
Temba is one of the top gender-based violence hotspots in the country and provincially as pronounced by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, during the second quarter crime statistics a week ago.
A total of 9 556 rape cases were opened between July and September this year. Temba has been dubbed as the country’s rape capital after 74 cases were opened during the second quarter at Temba police station in Tshwane, the highest of any station. Despite various interventions and measures in place, Gauteng continues to experience alarming incidents of gender-based violence perpetrated against women and children.
The men of this beautiful nation have declared a war on women and children. Just a week ago, South Africans were left in shock and disbelief following the discovery of disjointed human body parts in a fridge at a back room in Protea Glen, Soweto. This gruesome incident was exposed by an alleged girlfriend of a 24-year-old boyfriend who is alleged to have committed the act. Gender-Based Violence continues to paint a grim picture on the safety of women and children in their respective spaces.
This is one of the many horrendous incidents of gender-based violence Gauteng has experienced in recent times. What kind of man subjects a woman to this form of brutality? Something has gone horribly wrong in Gauteng.
The Crimes Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA shows that femicide is five times higher than the global average. Such shocking statistics! Most studies reveal that Gender Based Violence is promoted by inequality, insecurities and patriarchal systems. The scourge of gender-based violence works against the dream of building a safe and a socially cohesive Gauteng City Region.
Men are not licensed by culture to act violently against the vulnerable in society nor are they authorised by tradition to behave brutally against women. Those devoid of feelings of compassion, love for one another and treating others with contempt must be subjected to the criminal justice system without fear or favour.
Until there is a renewed commitment by everyone to protect women and children with the same intensity as that of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, these worrying statistics of gender-based violence and femicide will continue to haunt us. Resources should be adequately allocated to fight the scourge of gender-based violence just like the Covid-19 pandemic. Until all government departments and entities are hold accountable on what they have done to fight gender-based violence in their respective areas of work, this pandemic will never stop to rear its ugly head. Gender-Based Violence needs all sectors of society together with its constituencies to join hands and eradicate the scourge in all its totality.
A range of interventions have been introduced to defeat the scourge of violence against women and children, including victim empowerment centres and sexual offences units and courts to address sexual offences, rape and domestic violence. The Gauteng Gender-Based Violence Co-ordinating Unit led by the provincial champion, Ms Merita Ground, has been in the forefront, working tirelessly with various government departments and civil society to create awareness on the scourge and devising various interventions aimed at fighting the scourge.
The Ikhaya Lethemba Victim Empowerment Centre, a flagship project for the Gauteng provincial government, has also ensured that women and children and all vulnerable groups are cared for and supported to the later. The centre’s holistic psycho-social services continue to play a paramount role in supporting victims of gender-based violence.
Interventions such as skills development are linked to long term empowerment strategies that strengthen gender equality and respect women as active agents in the rebuilding of their own lives.
Green Doors were rolled out in all Gauteng corridors by MEC Faith Mazibuko as part of concerted efforts of the Gauteng provincial government’s response towards the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
Green Doors are safe sites that are situated within five kilometres of the local police stations that offer victims of gender-based violence services such as emotional containment, trauma debriefing and referral to the nearest police station to open a case.
The Department of Community Safety has continuously mobilised communities including men to join a social movement in the fight against women and children abuse. Various safety structures have been put in place for community members to actively participate in the fight against crime.
The Youth Crime Prevention Desks, Men As Safety Promoters, Women As Safety Promoters, Elderly Safety Desks, Community Police Forums and Community Patrollers are available at local police station for anyone to join. We can no longer allow ourselves to be innocent bystanders while crime is committed under our watch.
Throughout the 16 Days of Activism campaign and beyond, the department will share messages on the importance of reporting cases of Gender Based Violence and assist victims especially women and children as well as all vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the LGBTQI+ community to regain the trust of the criminal justice system and ensure that adequate support is provided to all those affected. May this 16 Days of Activism campaign reignite us to continue fighting the scourge of gender-based violence with the same intensity as that of the Covid-19 virus.
Mashaba is Deputy Director: Media Relations, Gauteng Department of Community Safety