Deputy President Paul Mashatile has reiterated that government remains committed to work aimed at eradicating the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV).
“We will not rest until our communities are safe for all, especially women and girls. We must report and condemn the perpetrators who reside within our communities,” the Deputy President said on Saturday.
Mashatile presided over the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign for 2023 at Nsikazi Stadium in Gutshwa, Mpumalanga.
The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign this year will be commemorated under the theme: “Accelerating Actions to end Gender-Based Violence and Femicide: Leaving No One Behind”.
This is a call to action to raise awareness about the devastating impact that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has on women, children and the entire social fabric.
“Since the dawn of democracy, this government has consistently shown commitment to addressing GBV by implementing legislative, policy and other measures to advance equality and empowerment for women, children, and people with disabilities.
“Recently, we passed six pieces of legislation related to gender-based violence and femicide, and the ongoing implementation costing exercise underscores our commitment to ending GBVF,” Mashatile said.
He mentioned that one significant milestone is the recent assent of President Cyril Ramaphosa to crucial legislative reforms, which include the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.
“This month marks a historic milestone with the passing of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill by the National Assembly. The establishment of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, underpinned by this robust legislative framework, is an urgent and critical task.
“In addition, we have established and capacitated the Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) at provincial and local levels to end the pandemic. This includes the development of the Comprehensive National Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Prevention and the Integrated Femicide Strategic Frameworks, which signal a holistic approach to turning the gender-based violence tide,” Mashatile said.
The Deputy President noted the National School of Government’s effort to impart knowledge through a dedicated online course covering gender mainstreaming and gender-responsive planning and budgeting, which exemplifies government’s commitment to mainstreaming women’s and girls’ priorities.
“The existence of the Intersectional Shelter Policy, the Psycho-Social Support Services (PSSS) Policy, and the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre, which is a 24-hour helpline, demonstrates our resolve to provide essential services and support to survivors.
“Provinces are identifying and refurbishing underutilised buildings for shelters and interim housing. The Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) are being expanded, with three new centres established. Our initiatives primarily focus on bolstering women’s economic empowerment across diverse sectors,” Mashatile said.
He recognised efforts by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in combatting GBV and femicide.
“The recent identification and takedown of 27 sexual predators in the country and the recent sentencing of Mario Giusti to 6 400 years in jail after being found guilty of more than 1 000 charges of child pornography is a step in the right direction.
“Witnessing such law enforcement actions is encouraging, and we hope to observe further arrests of this nature in the future,” Mashatile said.
He called on government, communities and civil society to act on the widespread prejudice against the LGBTQIA+ community and the apathy that allows the victims to be “invisible” and denied basic human rights.
“Moreover, we must understand that sexual violence is not only about sexism. A woman can perpetrate against a man, a man can perpetrate against a woman, and it can happen between same-sex couples as well.
“Today, we must recommit ourselves to ending violence against women and children. We have the ability to shape a future in which women and children are safe and their rights are respected.
“I urge men in our communities to be role models to young boys. Remember, boys are born, and men are made. As men, we can help develop men in our society who respect women; men who do not see women as objects; men who recognise the equality of women,” he said.
The Deputy President also urged traditional leaders to intensify their role as community leaders against unfair inheritance practices and GBVF.
“As custodians of our culture, customs and origin, you must say no to cultural practices that are harmful to women and children, such as ukuthwala, child muthi killings, witchcraft burning, and many other practices.
“Let us join together, leaving no one behind, as a community to accelerate actions to end gender-based violence and femicide,” Mashatile said.