WHY DOES VAWG PERSIST IN SA AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
There was a start off point that acknowledged the move and change in conversation over the years from “violence against women” to GBV. This is a step in the right direction as all the core issues must be dealt with from a gendered perspective. Such a perspective and approach will assist in addressing the gaps and errors in the system to respond to GBV appropriately.
Although it is vital to seek solutions, it must be borne in mind that there is no one size fits all approach that can solve issues of GBV. One of the solutions can be a society where we put women at the centre of the conversations and programmes.
GOVERNMENT’S ROLE IN ADDRESSING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN- IS THERE ROOM FOR OTHER STAKEHOLDERS?
The battle and scourge of violence is that of both women and men. Participation has been at the core of our democracy and this answers the questions as to whether stakeholders’ coordination is necessary. GBV is a societal problem and must be treated as such. We have laws in place but the implementation has suffered. A contributing factor is that there has not been a review of the laws to question appropriateness and relevance. Crime statistics in relation to violence against women and children, do not reflect the actual issues and improvement. This is unfortunately how the system has been set up.
There is an ongoing creation of structures within government and the question is whether these are well coordinated and if not, how best can we do that. Government involvement must not always be financial resources but rather the implementation and creation of initiatives and programmes aimed at addressing GBV. GBV must not be looked at in isolation of the socio economic issues in the country. Human rights such as dignity and self-esteem are at the core of women’s self-realisation economically.
All stakeholders need to be part of the dialogues hosted by the ministry across provinces. Part of these dialogues is to enforce economic empowerment as a key point to addressing GBV. The proposed solution is to deal with the attitudes of men and this may be a future task and this starts with how we socialise our children.
IS THERE NEED FOR A COORDINATED PLAN TO ADDRESS GBV AND IF SO WHAT SHOULD IT FACTOR?
Coordination remains a problem because there is a feeling of competition across various sectors. Different ministers in their terms will work towards what they are mostly passionate about and often the programmes fall short in addressing long term solutions.
Previous attempts in addressing violence from a home socialising perspective has not been solely effective and there is a need to start addressing this issue at early childhood centres. GBV must be addressed by all government departments and not just Social Development and Women Ministry.
Social development is tasked with strengthening families and they have created the national emergency response team. They are set up to direct people to responsible places to get assistance.
It must not be ignored that GBV is closely linked to the spread of HIV and addressing one will go a long way in dealing with the other. The media and social media are great platforms and strategies in raising awareness and finding collective solutions. However, there should be no support to “men are trash” campaigns as it is not a productive response and lacks understanding of the root issues and impact of violence.
The related issues to be addressed are: human trafficking, cervical and breast cancer early detection. Spatial planning is a big issue. Rape has long gone beyond power relations and there is a vast need for psycho-social support services.
About 30% of the Social Development department’s budget goes to corporatives with the aim of empowering communities and women at the core of the initiatives. Another initiative is called “memeza”. This is a tool similar to a whistle that will be used by women to try to get assistance through the sound it makes. There are also plans to install sim cards in the tool that will have a geo-locator that dispatches help to the area.
WHAT CAN THE GBV SECTOR LEARN FROM OTHER SECTORS? SHARING LESSONS FROM SANAC
The AIDS sector has made all the progress that they have because there were coordinated efforts and realisation of the loss and cost of life. The competency of the laws and human resources must be put in place. Structural, social and behavioural issues must all be addressed in the initiatives.
The impact and the progress must be measured and this will assist in us channelling efforts and resource efficiently. We need a clear coordinated plan that will be responsive to creating a better society where there is no fear.
WHO IS THE FAITH BASED SECTOR ACCOUNTABLE TO? ADDRESSING GBV IN SA
A collective effort must be to root our children in core values and give them the wings to fly beyond the barriers set in their ways. There is a responsibility to address sexual violence that is rife in the religious sector. This becomes slightly difficult for SACC to get involved where such churches are not part of this voluntary association.
Their commitment is a national programme to address sexual violence perpetrated by the clergy and the education of children and women around these issues. This programme is a response to the fact that religious and cultural assumptions need to be addressed. Marital relations and conjugal rights need to be addressed in changing mind-sets.
There needs to be a collaborative effort amongst all sectors with clear roles in achieving a bigger impact.
INPUTS FROM RESPONDENTS
The focus must be on the needs of the communities. We are all impacted and affected by GBV and this should be motivation for us all to be involved. We need to address the competition of scarce resources within the sector. There are solutions put in place such as research and advocacy. In addition to those, there is a need to look at the recommendations previously set out in various commissions and programmes and see who needs to be held accountable.
The criminal justice system is ready to deal with GBV. The criminal justice system has been responsible and responsive in dealing with GBV issues and matters. The NPA has prioritised the fight against any perpetrator
The biggest challenge and need that seeks to be addressed is the lack of and need for women shelters in various places.
Tears: the reality that people face is vastly different from what has been presented. The Dept of Social Dev needs to be more vocal about the initiatives they have set in place so that they are more accessible to the community.
Mkondo Youth Development Centre: victims are in need of support that the current system does not address. We need a holistic approach in dealing with GBV.
YANA: There are Issues of women and children not being able to access services such as sanitary towels. In Mpumalanga, the project with TLAC became more than just dealing with a single issue. The project is inclusive of traditional leaders in addressing community issues.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA FOUNDATION: Male perspective must be introduced in seeking solutions. There is shame amongst men and there needs to be more inclusive conversations with men.
WAY FORWARD AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
- Coordinated efforts with all stakeholders.
- Clear roles of each stakeholder in ensuring accountability.
- Solution seeking conversations must not be had in isolation as GBV affects both women and men.
- Community involvement must be at the core of the solutions and discussions.
-Measurement in statistics must not derail the NGO sector to come up with effective solutions as statistics do not reflect the true verity of the problem.