UN CSW Report: briefing; SALRC Report on Adult Prostitution Summit: way forward; Traditional Courts Bill: discussion

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

25 April 2018
Chairperson: Ms R Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Steering Committee considered the replacement of one of the opposition party members and how it was to go about it procedurally. It discussed the Commission on the Status of Women report focusing on the key issues which affect rural women and girls that came up in the different sessions. A key concern was the matter of South Africa not yet having a country report and delegates attending the session with different positions to that of the country. The Committee discussed the mismanagement of resources by the country's delegation; and discussed resolutions by Stakeholders on the criminalisation of adult Prostitution and the confusing resolution of the ANC on the matter. The Committee spoke on the achievements and concerns of the Traditional Courts Bill.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and notified the Committee that the meeting would end earlier than stated because the bell would be rung before 15:00 pm.

Mr Bryan Mantyi, Committee Secretary, announced the apologies of two members: Ms C Majeke (UDM), because of a bereavement, and Ms S Nkomo (IFP), who was still on sick-leave.

The Chairperson asked if those were the only two apologies and if so what were the Members’ comments on them because there were people wanted to join the Steering Committee.

Ms T Memela (ANC) responded that a letter would have to be written to ask what was happening with Ms Nkomo because her condition was unknown and they were not aware of whether the IFP had scrapped her and if so her position could be replaced.

The Chairperson asked what the rules said about the matter.

Mr Mantyi stated that the Steering Committee was elected in terms of the rules which state that there had to be two members of the opposition. The Committee could do one of two things, either a letter be written to the party that would indicate that she was no longer attending and whether they wished to elect someone to the Steering Committee. The other was that they could allow the opposition parties to decide among themselves, holding a formal election for a member they would have as part of the opposition in the Steering Committee.

The Chairperson asked who the letter would be addressed to.

Mr Mantyi responded that if the Committee was opting for the first option of asking the party, then a letter would be written to the Chief Whip of the IFP stating that its member was elected as a member of the Steering Committee but the Committee wished to replace her. If the Committee opted for the second option of approaching opposition parties then it would mean writing to all the parties, which would pose a challenge because some of the opposition parties, such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) already wished to be part of the Committee.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) stated that Ms Nkomo was elected by the opposition parties and not the IFP. So, the second option of writing to the parties would be more appropriate.

The Chairperson stated that it was agreed that they would go for the second option, and whoever would be elected would be part of the Steering Committee.


Briefing by Senior Researcher on the draft Report of the CSW
The Chairperson stated that there would be a briefing by the Senior Researcher on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) report and Ms Tseke and Ms Khunou, who were a part of the CSW, could perhaps contribute where they thought necessary. The day before, the Minister had delivered another version of the report, which was good because Ministers got into other meetings which the Committee delegates could not get into.

Ms Joy Watson, Senior Committee Researcher, said there were two documents, of which one was a 21-page report and the second, a summary of the report. The CSW took place on 12 March to 22 March 2018 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The priority theme focused on were the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women. The report covered the sessions of the CSW and of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which Members of Parliament attended.

The focus of the session looked at the structural barriers and challenges to the realisation of rural women and girls' Human Rights and how these challenges were to be addressed to achieve the Beijing Declaration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was structured around six themes: looking at providing an adequate standard of living to rural women and girls, ensuring the rights of rural women to land and land tenure security, strengthening food security and nutrition, addressing violence and harmful practices, ensuring access to healthcare and sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as providing good quality education for rural girls overall.

At the bottom of page, one was a summary of the key issues that kept coming up in the different sessions. The first was that the condition of the rural girls in the area could not be changed without investing more in good quality education. Girls that were born into poverty were more likely to not complete school, to get married early and would continue in cycles of poverty. The focus on education and literacy was very important because within the rural areas were issues around school attendance for girls which was affected by their being very involved in caring for those in the homes who were often older. They would often have to walk long distances to school and the matter of sanitary towels and their lack of access to them at schools and the fear associated with sexual abuse when travelling to school.

A big issue that came up was around how rural girls do not have access to technology which affected the rest of the quality of their lives. Being unable to get on to the internet limited their life opportunities and their access to information. The second big issue was the narrowing of the gender pay gap because one of the issues was that globally over one million women work in agriculture who had very little to no social protection. This meant there were millions of rural women and girls who contribute to the economy and their work was either unpaid or poorly remunerated. An estimate of thirteen percent of women globally, owned the land they work on. Even though they were involved in food production they were most likely to be short of food.

A report was done looking at progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets and the World Economic Report of October 2017 which showed that it would take 170 years to close the gender pay gap. Far too little was being done to narrow the gender pay gap between men and women. The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in that if you wanted to change rural woman's economic empowerment, then there should be a relook at how investments were put on multi-purpose centres with access to computers and internet in rural communities. Many women living in rural areas lacked access to productive resources such as land, technology and women generally had access to ICT, with only 41 percent of women in low and middle-income countries owning mobile phones.

Access to land was a key issue locally and internationally. When many of the resources are invested in areas that have access to technology. Owning the land gave farmers more incentive to improve their farming technique and to manage their land sustainably. As part of the report for the International Women's Conference last year was the issue of 'one woman one hectare' in South Africa, which the government responded to with one 'household one hectare'. This would not address the issue in terms of changing land ownership for women. In the matter of women in disaster risk management, research had shown that women in communities are disproportionately affected by environmental and climate change. Women's human rights were ignored by the impacts of, and responses to, climate change. Recently the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted a General Amendment Number 37 which looked at how climate change and disaster affect women in rural areas and its triumph to get government responses to look at the sensitivity of climate change.

Women and financial exclusion was a focus on how banking products and services and financial products and services largely exclude women. They were not tailored to meet the needs of women. There was a need to relook at designing products and services in the financial sector that would encourage the participation of rural women. The research showed that when women took out loans they would be more likely than men, to meet their payment. Yet the banks when structuring the loan agreements, women would be less advantaged and charged higher interest rates. Structuring a system in which women would be able to start their own businesses. The eradication of violence against women and children was consistent and slow, notwithstanding the global issue of violence which had occurred within the context of the #metoo movement.

The Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women had reported that they were now looking at femicide in countries and it was very high in South Africa. Governments needed to start reporting on cases in which women were killed by their partners. The Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women were also calling for information on looking at how governments were supporting shelters for victims of gender-based violence because mostly governments would try to push that responsibility onto NGOs and not enough money was being put into the provision of shelters which would be a global attempt to try and address that. The impact of HIV/AIDS on rural women and girls, looking at the data from the UNAIDED shows that there continued to be a lot of work to be done in reducing the rate of HIV infections as well as providing protective services to scale up prevention and support. The CSW Resolution 60/2 was not as strong as it needed to be therefore it needed to deal with Women, the Girl child and HIV. UNAIDS showed that were 700 000 new infections amongst young girls every week. The UN panel had women representatives from South Africa and the country's HIV infections were still alarmingly high. There was a very short period of time for the current Parliament to take up these issues before going into elections so work and decisions would need to be made in consideration of how much time the Committee had. The caucus needs to decide if there were priorities to look at in terms of these issues.

The full report revealed the resolutions that were adopted from page 18 to page 22. What those revolutions meant to Parliament is that there were three pillars that impacted on the work of Parliament. The first being strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks by monitoring the implementation of legislation and policy aimed at improving the lives of rural women and girls. The second, overseeing government service delivery to rural women and girls aimed at improving the quality of their lives and thirdly, strengthening the collective voice, leadership and decision-making of rural women and girls through public participation in legislative and oversized processes.

Ms Tseke stated that she was interested in the United Nations Special Fund, how it worked and how it could be of assistance. In the UN meetings she saw that women from different countries came together to complain without coming up with solutions. Secondly, there was no platform as politicians and officials who would be representing the country in New York to discuss the position of the country and perhaps they could come together to share information. They had not seen the country report and whether it was presented there or if was just a statement.
On the agricultural side, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) would have a space to present their advocation for 'one woman one hectare' which was not the position of the department. The Departments’ position was 'one household one hectare'. This is why there was a need to come together and discuss the position.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC), concurred with Ms Tseke on the issue of stakeholders meeting before they go to New York. Only Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were meeting and Parliament was not invited. The Minister stated that the Members who were going to New York had been invited to the meeting but that meeting was very late and Members of Parliament were not invited in time to participate. Another problem faced by South Africa last year was that there was no country report. Other countries are meeting together and discussing their issues but South Africa had no such discussions.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Watson and Ms Tseke. The matter of the country going CSW was mismanaged by the Ministers because the same strategy used internationally to monitor elections was the way Ms Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma, together with all the people who were leading the delegation managed this process because one of the disadvantages was the National Gender Commission, where different stakeholders had to meet so that there would be one position at CSW. The Minister’s announcement that there would now be a focus on the National Gender Commission would assist the Department.
The IPU sent a letter stating that it wanted the Committee to report on what Parliament has done in terms of equality and encompassed gender violence, the next meeting could deal with that. This would need the Multi Party to convene the meeting and agree that it must be debated in order to reach arrangements for a plan of action out of the debate. What the minister was doing was very good.

The Chairperson congratulated Ms Watson and Ms Tseke on the work they had done.

Ms Tseke suggested that the report should be tabled to Parliament. In addition to the programme going forward there was a meeting with the Commission for Gender Equality and one of the problems which they were going to take forward was the issue of the shelters. They would have public hearings with the people who were responsible for shelters.

Ms Bhengu, said she did not know what they were going to do because the Minister was asking who nominated the delegates to New York. The Minister said it was a problem that only two or three Members of Parliament were going and that last year there were more officials than Members of Parliament at the session and said she would speak to the Speaker about the number of members attending.

Ms Tseke responded that the situation was the same from the National Assembly side, it only had three representatives. The NCOP on the other hand would be a problem because last year they brought a huge number of their support staff, which meant the delegation consisted mostly of officials.

The Chairperson said the issue of senior staff was very unfair because there was a big delegation of senior Ministers with their staff.

Ms Tseke interjected that this year was different and there were not a lot of Ministers.

The Chairperson stated that the Members went because they had befriended certain people and others went with their sisters to shop. Parliament was overlooked with the Chairperson of the House doing their own thing. The CSW delegation was the responsibility of the Deputy Speaker but now it went directly to the Chairperson of the House who casually whispered they want delegates. Parliament was just undermined.

Ms Memela asked what all those people were going to do there because they would hardly attend the conference meetings.

Ms Tseke, asked that there be confidence in the new Minister.


Summit with Stakeholders on Responses to the Report of the SALRC Project 107; Sexual Offenses Adult Prostitution
Ms Thembakazi Mpapela, Committee Content Advisor, said that on the issue of sex work, it was agreed that during the summit the Members would engage with the critical stakeholders and later meet as a Steering Committee to discuss and decide a way forward.  The aim of hosting the summit was to get responses from the critical stakeholders on the recommendations as contained in the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) which had put forth two legislative reform options. The first was partial criminalisation in which the buyer would be criminalised and not the seller. The second was continued criminalisation with diversion programmes.

62 submissions were received from stakeholders and 30 of those stakeholders were available for oral presentations. When compiling the report, it consisted of both oral and written presentations. Out of the 62 presentations 37 of the stakeholders supported full decriminalisation, 14 were for continued criminalisation, six supported partial criminalisation, three were of the mind that criminalisation would be fine but should be coupled with diversion programmes and two merely voiced their concern on the poor quality of the SALRC report.

Ms Dalene Clark informed that the Department of Justice was busy evaluating the recommendations contained in the Project 107 report on adult prostitution and was planning on submitting a legislative proposal by the second half of 2018. An issue that was very popular during the summit was that of the resolution by the governing party. The purpose was for the Steering Committee to craft a way forward taking into consideration the resolution as well as the summit report.

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Khunou.

The Chairperson stated that the statements in the report were vague.

Ms Watson commented that it was clear from the ANC media statement that there was a call for decriminalisation of sex workers and subsequently the resolution was different from what was said in the statement. There must be a continuation of discussions without taking a stance on decriminalisation and it was problematic because there had been discussions for over ten years. The political stance taken was different from the political agenda. The ANC resolution of sex work as reported in the media was not what was depicted in the way the resolution was written.

The Chairperson stated that there was no progress. It was in the media that the ANC had resolved it which is why she wanted Ms Nocawe Mafu (ANC) to come to a meeting because she was present during the resolution meeting. The Chairperson wondered if this was not a portrayal of the patriarchal challenges they face.

Ms Memela stated that men were totally against the resolution. They would leave their wives at home to buy on the streets then kill afterwards.

Mr Mantyi advised the Chairperson that procedurally from this point onwards a draft report was available but they did not have the part of the deliberations which meant moving forward the Steering Committee and Members that were there during the summit would need to have a meeting in which the Members would deliberate a way forward. What is important would be for the different political parties to take the report and look at the presentations and look at what the different stakeholders had to say and form a party-political decision before the joint meeting for deliberations.

The Chairperson said this was the platform for the discussion.

Mr Mantyi stated that it was important for other parties to meet on their own first.

The Chairperson asked that people attending the meeting not give different reports of what had been said in the meeting to the media. She pleaded that people should give the correct report to their relevant structures.

Ms Bhengu suggested that the Committee could invite Ms Thandi Modise who was leading the gender sub-committee, to clarify everything.

The Chairperson clarified that Ms Modise was not present but rather that Ms Mafu was, Ms Modise was appointed after the conference.

Ms Khunou agreed with what Mr Mantyi had said, that this should be sent out to parties for them to discuss first followed by the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus' discussion of the feedback so that during the Multi-Party everyone would be speaking from the mandate of their respective parties.

The Chairperson stated that Ms Khunou was taking the meeting back and that this part should be left out because whoever would be speaking would be doing so as a member of the Multi-Party and not as representatives of a specific party. If people came they would be coming as Multi-Party in the broader forum.


Discussion on the Traditional Courts Bill
The Chairperson stated that a gentleman from COSATU gave them an idea of what transpired in the meeting because he was a part of it. The Minister of the Department was also in attendance of that meeting. Ms Mpapela was asked to take the Committee through the document.

Ms Mpapela stated that she would not be going through the whole document and had compiled a summary of it.

The Chairperson added that the document could be read at home for Members to familiarise themselves with it.

Ms Mpapela stated that she had summarised what she thought was important in the document and that at the end of the report the conclusion pointed out what she thought were achievements in relation to women. There were also things that were of concern. As part of the achievements was the fact that the Bill assured women of full an equal participation irrespective of their sexual orientation and/or religion as both members of the traditional courts and as parties in a dispute. This assurance was not part of the previous Bill. The clause on opting out of the traditional courts system was also of critical importance. The training and capacity building for members of the traditional court was imperative so that they would be trained on Restorative Justice and the Constitution. The role played by CGE of reporting annually the participation and representation of women in the traditional courts. Another critical issue is that found for review of traditional courts proceedings and decisions when women are not given the chance to participate and be represented. Sexual crimes were not part of the matters to be dealt with by the traditional courts.

Ms Mpapela noted the concerns were that even though there is assurance that women would be given full and equal participation, the level of representation and participation as members of traditional courts was not specified. This would make it possible for the court to say women were participating even though only one woman would be participating. The concern with the opt out option was that there were no mechanisms put in place to empower communities about that provision and their rights. Communities would need to be made aware that opting out would not mean they are no longer members of that community, especially for vulnerable women.  A rural lesbian woman who is also single parent could easily be stigmatised if she chose to opt out.
Whether CGE is adequately resourced to monitor all traditional courts and whether reports by the CGE would be taken into consideration and implemented by the Department of Justice. It was concerning that traditional courts were expected to give advice on succession and inheritance issues and those relating to Ukuthwala and Ukungena because ill-informed traditional courts could base their advice on males being primary successors. The traditional courts should be given a mandate to be aware of these traditional practices which were unconstitutional and harmful to women. Recommended the caucus invite the Department of Justice for members to interact for clarity and then the Multi-Party could write a formal submission to the Portfolio and/or Select Committee on Justice about the Bill.

The Chairperson said the concerns listed on the document were very important because Ukuthwala was very serious, when a woman would be abducted and taken to be a man's wife by dressing her in traditional married women's clothing and the first item which she would be forced to wear is a black headwrap, also called a doek. She noted that though the doek now symbolised something else, there were deeper politics to what it was for women in the past. It symbolised for some, the taking of a woman without her consent and degrading her integrity. Minister Michael Masutha should be invited.

Ms Bhengu recommended that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs should be invited with the Minister of Justice.

Ms Tseke stated that the Bill was before the Portfolio Committee and since one of the recommendations was a submission to the Select Committee it would be late. The Department of Justice was supposed to work with the Multi-Party and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in a joint committee to deal with this. The House Chairperson should be notified.

Ms Memela stated that this proves how low is the radius of important things that affect women. This was the eighth time trying to push for this Bill. There was a big consultative meeting when she was in the NCOP where the wives of the Chiefs and Indunas came to voice out the way they were treated and the person chairing was Mr Jeff Radebe and when the women stood up saying how dare they be degraded further than what they were already going through, he got angry and refused to leave when he was told to because of patriarchy.

The Chairperson interjected that the bell was about to ring. A letter should be written to the Speaker before the meeting explaining it properly, taking into account all that has been said because the Speaker was not aware of any of this.

An ANC member responded that a letter be written asking the Chief Whip how far he was with organising a meeting to discuss the matter because this was rubbish.

The Chairperson suggested Ms Thoko Didiza be invited to that meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.



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