16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children: Ministerial briefing

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

22 November 2011
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Lulu Xingwana, presented the Concept Document for the Campaign on the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities, which was to be launched on 25 November, and would run until 10 December 2011. The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (the Department) would work closely with other departments, not only in addressing the rights of women but also abuse and violence against children. There were various pieces of legislation enacted over the last ten years or so in line with this aim, including legislation on children, domestic violence, maintenance, sexual offences and promotion of equality. In addition, South Africa had been a signatory to various international protocols. The theme for this year’s 16 days of Activism was “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence”. This recognised that although South Africa had peace in the country, many women did not see peace in their own homes. It also called for activism against the proliferation of small arms, which played a huge role in domestic violence. It was recognised that women were the victims of gender-based violence also in the lead up and follow up to election periods, and by state agents, including police and armed forces. Although generally, crime statistics had declined, rape statistics continued to rise. In the following year, there would be a 365 Day National Action Plan and the launch of a National Council against Gender-Based violence, to be funded by the Department.

Members felt that all campaigns must target the right people and some Members were concerned that there was not enough focus on the rural areas, where women were worst-affected by gender-based violence. Whilst there were budget concerns, it was noted that engagement with the provincial and local government to curtail costs, and the Minister assured the Caucus that the campaign would be taken to rural areas, and urged Members to assist in profiling areas most in need. A Member noted concerns also about violence against children, suggested that the churches could be more involved in the campaigns, and asked what was being done to try to ensure that all government departments employed the requisite 2% disabled people, querying also why there was no representation of disabled people in the debates conducted in the Caucus so far. Members also wanted to know about programmes to counter drug-abuse, particularly by children, and the Minister noted that there was a need also to address killing and taking of body parts for muti. The respective roles and functions of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence and the Commission on Gender Equality were clarified. Members also wanted to know how sex workers were involved and catered for in the campaigns, and said that women in the farming sector needed special consideration.

The Caucus programme for 2012 was presented, noting that it took into account the priorities of Parliament and lessons learned from the work done in 2011.

Meeting report

Caucus Programme for 2012
The Chairperson acknowledged the presence of all the representatives, noting that many had travelled from far to attend the Multi-Party Caucus.

She then asked the Caucus’ Researcher to present the 2012 programme of activities for the Caucus for the first two terms of the New Year. She noted that the programme took into account the priorities of Parliament and the lessons learnt from the work done in 2011, particularly with regard to the Climate Change programme. She noted the increased emphasis on co-ordination between the Caucus and its various regional affiliates. Another aim for the following year was to better facilitate the creation of an interface between the Caucus and various other Committees within Parliament, so as to better resolve gender related issues in the various Committees, as they arose.

The programme was presented and noted.

16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities: 25 November – 10 December 2011: Minister’s briefing
Hon Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, presented the Concept  Document for the Campaign on the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities. The campaign had previously focussed on women and children, and was now being extended to include people with disabilities. The Minister expressed her desire to work closely with all government departments in fulfilling the campaign’s mandate. She highlighted the fact that women, in the period following the country’s achieving democracy, had worked very hard to ensure that the rights of women were upheld, and that the issue of abuse and violence towards children was placed on the national agenda as a matter of priority.

She also noted that over the past few years, there had been great progress made in effecting legislation that is in line with this aim. Notable pieces of legislation included the Domestic Violence Act No 116 of 1998, The Maintenance Act No 99 of 1998, The Children’s Act No 38 of 2005, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act No 32 of 2007, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act No 4 of 2000, and the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998. All these pieces of legislation were targeted at issues pertaining to women and children, spearheaded by women.

The Minister then outlined the various international interventions, conventions and protocols that the Ministry had adopted (see attached presentation for details).

The Minister shared the theme of the campaign for 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children, which was “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence”. She called for a challenge against militarism and realisation of an end to violence against women.

There were five sub-themes to the campaign. These were to bring women together, the championing of peace and human rights movements to challenge militarism, activism against the proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence, a study of sexual violence in and after conflict, and the political violence against women, including pre-and post election violence and violence during elections, and finally, sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents, particularly police and security or armed forces, against women.

She noted that although South Africa as a country was characterised by peace, many women in the country did not know peace in their own homes. Where guns were held in the home, they were most often used to injure or harm women and children.

The Minister noted a decline in the statistics on crime as reported by the Minister of Police, which was commendable, but added that there were still concerns about the rise of rape statistics in the country.

The Minister noted the various challenges that affected people with disabilities. As a result, the Minister spoke about the 365 Day National Action Plan that would see the launch of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence, to be funded by her Department. She called for the Caucus to drive that National Action Plan. She also suggested the implementation of a Self-Defence programme for the purposes of empowering women.

Finally, the Minister outlined the calendar of national events for the campaign (see attached presentation for details).

Discussion
Ms P Tshwete (ANC) voiced the need for the campaign to target the right people and emphasised the need for the campaign therefore to be focussed on people in the rural areas, where women were the worst-affected by gender-based violence. She noted that such inclusion would clearly create a budget issue which should be countered at all cost. She also voiced her concern as to the escalating violence against children.

Ms Xingwana responded by conceding to the assertion that women in rural areas needed to enjoy more inclusion in these programmes, but echoed the issue that current budgets posed a limitation in this regard. She spoke of the various attempts made to engage with provincial Premiers to help. She noted her concerns about the continued lack of participation of the Western Cape in various programmes initiated by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (the Department). In regard to where events would be held, she noted that the Department would attempt to rotate between locations and would also identify “hot spots” where undesirable activities predominated, such as drug abuse, and other forms of abuse including rape. She then assured the caucus that the Department had every intention of travelling to rural areas to promote the campaign.

Dr G Ramokgopa, (ANC), Deputy Minister of Health, noted that she was sensitive to the issue of the location of events, and stated that there was an attempt to reach out to the most affected areas. She cautioned that this Caucus should not hold a bias towards the rural areas. Often, there was a responsibility on members of this Caucus to attend to profiling of particular problems in areas and communities, as they were the voice for women in those areas.

Ms C Madlopha (ANC) echoed the concerns of her colleague and voiced her appreciation for the fact that an invitation was extended to the provincial representatives. She encouraged the championing of the campaign at ward level, as she said that this could assist to overcome the budgetary constraints. She also said that attention must be focused on those areas most in need. She also noted the importance of including female pastors and pastors’ wives in the campaign, in a bid to uphold moral values.

Ms Xingwana accepted the proposal of a partnership with the churches and noted that their contribution would be greatly appreciated.

Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked about the 365 Day National Action Campaign and noted that it was necessary to make provision for the 366th day in a leap year.

Ms Mocumi referred to the Employment Equity Act provisions and asked what was in place to ensure that all government departments were reaching the minimum requirement of 2% representation of disabled people.

Ms Xingwana conceded that South Africa, including the public service, had not yet reached acceptable levels for the representation of disabled people in the workplace. The realisation of this was one of the reasons why her Ministry was created. She assured the Caucus that one division in the Ministry was dedicated to ensuring that all government departments reached the 2% required representation of disabled people.

Ms Mocumi asked if the Minister could clarify the provisions of Article 8 and 9 of the UN Convention on Disabled People, and explain their limitations.

Ms Mocumi asked why there was no representation of disabled people in the debates conducted by the Caucus.

Ms Xingwana noted that she did not decide who was to attend these debates, as the Chief Whip made this decision.

Ms Mocumi asked what programmes were in place to counter the intake of drugs amongst children, which she felt had a direct effect on women.

Ms Xingwana noted that the lead department on drugs and substance abuse was the Department of Social Development, which was included in this campaign.

Ms Maria Ntuli, Deputy Minister of Social Development, noted that Parliament had established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), headed by Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, to look at alcohol and substance abuse. The areas of focus were law enforcement, the legislation that governed substances, victim empowerment and setting up of rehabilitation centres across the country. She noted that there were other departments and organisations involved in this initiative. She noted that there were to be stricter regulations on selling times, prices and taxes, better law enforcement on issues of alcohol as well as on advertising, as there was high prevalence of alcohol advertisements on television currently. She also noted the need for families to be engaged to ensure that alcohol and drug education began at home. 

Ms Xingwana added that there was not only a problem with drugs but a rising problem with the prevalence of muti killings. She noted the need for the reform of the laws to ensure that both those who killed, and those who sought body parts for muti would be prosecuted.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC), in response to Ms P Mocumi’s concerns, noted that there was a need for all vulnerable groups to enjoy representation in strategic meetings, and extended her apologies for this not having been done in the past.

Ms M Njobe (COPE) sought clarity on the relationship and spheres of operation of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence and the Commission on Gender Equality. She then also voiced concern about the fact that the programme of events appeared to be urban-biased, noting that many events seemed to be concentrated in urban areas.

The Minister noted that the National Council against Gender-based Violence (the Council) would focus primarily on gender-based violence while the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) functioned as a monitoring body for government and civil society, and has made a big contribution to the conceptualisation of the Council. The CGE was to be represented in the Council.

Ms M Mashishi (ANC) sought clarity as to where sex workers were catered for in these campaigns.

Ms Xingwana responded that the issue of sex workers was one that needed to be debated further. Many issues around the sex trade were linked to poverty. Women in these professions would not be discriminated against in terms of their access to services, like health services. However, there was a need for legislative reform, in that currently it was the sex worker who was prosecuted in terms of the current legislation but there was a need also then to prosecute the purchaser of the sex services. Sex workers suffered abuse in the law enforcement sector.

Ms J Hartnick (DA) gave her assurance that she, as a representative of the Western Cape, was intending to attend all the events.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) noted the need for women in farming areas to be considered separately, noting that this sector was often neglected.

Ms C Zikalala (ANC), Deputy Chairperson of the Caucus, gave her vote of thanks to all present.

The meeting was adjourned.

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