16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Briefing

17 Nov 2008

Presenters:
Hon Nomatyala Hangana, Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government
Hon Fatima Hajaig, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon Susan Shabangu, Deputy Minister of Safety and Security
Adv Thoko Majokweni, Special Director, Genderlinks
Mr J Mofokeng, Men As Partners


Hon Nomatyala Hangana, Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government said that it was almost a decade since the 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Woman and Children was launched. The Government had been rallying citizens to stand together against the scourge of Gender Based violence. She said a study by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) revealed that societal awareness had increased by 33%. Progressive policies had been launched throughout the country.

Civil society organisations had been working with the government to deal with victims of gender violence and child abuse. The Deputy Minister said that alcohol and drug abuse contributed towards the high levels of gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. She then thanked the business organisations, the media and the Community based organisations. She concluded by saying that the Campaign should be sustained throughout the year.

Hon Fatima Hajaig, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that gender equality meant that relations between men and women should balance. She mentioned that all societies had a patriarchal system, as the citizens internalised patriarchy without realising it. She said that it was imperative that the Campaign should be spread all over the continent. She urged the people to stop hiding behind tradition, saying that culture was a dynamic phenomenon. She said all citizens must make the difference and stop looking the other way.

Adv Thoko Majokweni, Special Director, Genderlinks urged that South Africa needed a safety network and should be accountable as role players. She suggested that three days be set aside for Disabled, HIV/AIDS and the Human Rights days. She felt that there was a need for behaviour change and a focus on rural children. She said that Genderlinks had been training traditional leaders and prosecutors on the new Act. The South African Police Services, health workers and the National Prosecuting Authority were also being trained. She mentioned that the Campaign against Gender-Based Violence had been going on for 35 years at an international level.

Mr J Mofokeng said that often, if a teenage girl were to fall pregnant, her parents would send her away. He said that denial was killing the nation. Mr Mofokeng mentioned that the Department of Provincial and Local Government had commissioned a radio drama and television story to be broadcast on SAFM. The Non-governmental organisation “Men as Partners” was busy educating young men in shebeens and other places where they would go in their leisure time. Young girls were also being trained about the dangers of inter-generational sex. He concluded by urging South Africans to teach boys about gender based violence.

Ms Susan Shabangu, Deputy Minister Safety and Security said that in 2008 her department would be focussing on sexual offences and make sure that perpetrators were apprehended and sentenced. She said that communities were reluctant to point out the perpetrators of gender based violence. The South African Police Service (SAPS) was a huge organisation and there was a challenge to change the attitude of the police. She commended the cooperation between the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Women’s Network had been trying to ensure that perpetrators were not easily acquitted, as sometimes this option was used rather than proceed to sentence. Her department had been designing training material on human trafficking. Ms Shabangu concluded by saying that that the society should prepare victims to survive.

Minutes

Q: A journalist from the Sowetan asked what hindered the success rate of convictions.

A: Ms Shabangu replied that the biggest challenge was to ensure that the offenders were convicted.

Q: A journalist asked why the radio dramas were not done on indigenous
language radio stations so that they would reach wider audiences.

A: Mr Mofokeng replied that the dramas would be translated into all official languages
.

The briefing was adjourned.

REMARKS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, MS NOMATYALA HANGANA

17 NOVEMBER 2008


Honourable Minister in the Presidency, Dr Manto Tshabalala Msimang
Esteemed Ambassadors and Commissioners;
Honourable Premier of Mpumalanga Thabang Makwetla;
Honourable Deputy Minister of Enviromental Affairs and Tourism, Rejoice Mabudafhasi; and Fatima Hajaig of Foreign Affairs;
Traditional Leaders of our people;
Distinguished Guests;
Our Partners from various organizations;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is almost a decade now since the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign was launched in 1999 as part of efforts by the government to rally citizens against the high levels of violence directed at women and children which has been prevalent in our communities.

Programme director, part of the objectives for the 16 Days of Activism campaign is to uphold the rights of citizens and restore the dignity of the most vulnerable members of our society.  Among our major goals were the aims of raising awareness of the challenges posed by societal attitudes and practices that continue to perpetuate gender based violence and child abuse. This is an important goal if we are to end the scourge of gender based violence in our society.

In the past decade, our government, guided by the constitutional rights guaranteed to the people of South Africa, has come up with numerous laws that are meant to protect the dignity of each person in this country. We have also established progressive policies and implemented various programmes that are currently being implemented to protect women and children.
We have also in the past decade been able to expand the campaign activities and extend them to reach even the poorest and remotest of communities and this has been an important milestone as it is in these communities where such violence against women and children is prevalent.

Programme director, this is probably the last time I stand before you as the convenor of the 16 Days of Activism campaign but I am proud to say that a lot of ground work has been laid in preparing our nation for this daunting fight. I am also happy that studies such as the research conducted by Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) about a year ago indicate that societal awareness about problems such as child abuse, domestic violence as well as violence against women in general has increased considerably.

The GCIS study found that about 33% of South Africans were aware of the 16 Days campaign whereas only 16% were aware of it in 2003.

The number of civil society organisations that have embraced the campaign has increased significantly since 1999 and there has also been incredible growth in partnership between the government and the private sector with all parties throwing their full weight behind the 16 Days of Activism campaign. This has had a number of positive consequences such as that the joint effort enabled us to raise some of the required funds for a number of non-governmental and community based organisations dealing with victims of gender violence and child abuse.

About 24 such organisations benefited from the support funds in 2006 alone. Processes are currently underway to disburse more funs collected in 2007 to non-governmental organizations and community based organizations so they could continue with their work to help women and children. During the past nine years, the campaign succeeded in getting more men to support the fight against violence that is directed at woman and children and this culminated in the Million Men March in November last year in which over a million men from all provinces took part in the main march in Bloemfontein as well as in various other marches held countrywide.
     
Programme director, among the persistent challenges that we will have to deal with if we are to win this fight, would be the challenge of reducing the levels of alcohol and drug abuse in our communities. There is currently enough evidence at our disposal showing that the abuse of alcohol and drugs contribute towards the high levels of women and child abuse as well as to the spread of HIV and Aids. This is the most difficult part of the campaign because it requires the change of heart by individuals as well as their change of behaviour. It is something that cannot be dealt with in terms of policy formulation or by simple enacting laws.

This is also the message that we have been carrying out to people everywhere we go and it is the same message that we have also been conveying to the people on the farms as part of the farm-workers programme that we have undertaken in the last two years.


Programme director, this is just a review of some of the things that have happened since 1999, but the hounorable guests will find a lot of the information on the campaign inside the packages that have been prepared by GCIS and the secretariat committee.

Before I conclude, I want to personally take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for the sterling roles that you have played since the start of the campaign. As I said before, I am heartened by the commitment of a number of non-governmental organisations as well as community based organisations to the campaign.

I am also very grateful of the role played by Business and the contributions made by the private sector as a whole toward the 16 Days of Activism campaign. These do not only relate to financial contributions only but we also applaud the tangible contributions made by the South African media and related institutions which have supported the campaign from day one and played an important role in getting our messages as well as key information regarding the abuse of women and children to the public.

This indicates that if we continue to work together, there will be nothing that can defeat us. On that note, programme director, I want to remind people that a lot of work still awaits us if we are to win this war and it is therefore, important that we continue the fight beyond the normal 16 Days period but push it throughout the year as part of the 365 days programme in order for us to consolidate on the successes we are making.

I Thank You.


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