Report on Provincial Study Tours on Domestic Violence Act and Maintenance Act: adoption

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Meeting report

Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women 17 September 2003

17 September 2003

Chairperson: Ms L M T Xingwana

Documents handed out
Report on the study tours undertaken to Provinces (2000 - 2003) to monitor the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act [Act No.116 of 1998] and the Maintenance Act [Act No. 99 of 1998]

A national study tour was taken over three years to ascertain the impact and the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and Maintenance Act through the national gender machinery. Each province received a report on the successes and failures of the establishment of the gender machinery. The reports from all the provinces had been compiled into a single report and recommendations were made to all the provinces in the report. The report would be sent to the relevant departments and they would get copies of the provincial reports. The report was adopted with minor amendments regarding technicalities and concerns such as the judiciary's gender insensitivity and the location of the Office on the Status of Women.

The Chairperson indicated that it was a special meeting called to discuss and adopt the study tours. There was extensive debate about the Decade of Democracy and the invitation by Ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza (United Kingdom) for the committee to participate at a conference in London to celebrate the event. It was decided that the committee would motivate the relevant chief whips of the NCOP and the National Assembly to send ten members of the committee. The committee adopted minutes (07 February 2003, 26 February 2003, 28 March 2003, 04 April 2003, 23 May 2003, 16 May 2003 and 13 June 2003) with minor technical amendments regarding attendance after the quorum issues were solved.

The Chair explained that the study tours had been completed over a period of three years. It was a global overview of the status of the gender machinery and the Domestic Violence Act and the Maintenance Act. Each province received a report on the successes and failures of the establishment of the gender machinery. The reports from all the provinces had been compiled into a single report and recommendations were made to all the provinces in the report. The report would be sent to the relevant departments and they would get copies of the provincial reports.

The Chairperson started the discussion on the report. She said that the committee was not 'obligated to fulfil the country's commitment' towards Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It was the government's obligation to do so. It was the committee's role to oversee the process. The word 'government' should have been included.

Ms Maloyi (ANC) said that the statement referred to the machinery as a whole, which were the obligations of the Office on the Status of Women (OSW). The committee had to check the government's role thus the current form was correct.

Ms Xingwana said that it was important to note the terms of reference of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to ensure that it coincided with the background section of the document. The drafters were mandated to look at these to ensure that there were no contradictions.

Ms Maloyi suggested that it should read 'its obligation' or 'as well as the obligations' in order to correct the statement.

Ms Xingwana also suggested 'the government's obligation' as a possible solution.

Mr Surty(ANC) commented that he appreciated the format of the report. It reflected the function of the committee in the implementation of CEDAW. The inclusion of the terms 'its obligation' was correct because it was wide enough to fulfil all the committee's obligations.

Ms Xingwana ruled that the researchers and drafters would take care of the concern and take note of the suggestions.

Mr Surty commented on the successes and challenges of the DVA. The DVA had been disseminated widely in various languages and at various locations such as courts and post offices. It had reached the public successfully.

Ms Maloyi said that the report should be looked at in the context of the visits. The Mr Surty's point should be in outcomes section of the report.

Ms Xingwana said that there was too much detail on the section referring to Gender Machinery - t should have been part of the outcomes and achievements.

Ms M R Morutoa (ANC) said that it should be left as it was because it reflected the problems found on the visits.

Ms M P Themba (ANC) suggested that the section should name the Gauteng OSW specifically. The issue could be dealt with by naming what Gauteng had which was a Social development directorate. Even though they did not have an OSW they did have a body.

Ms Morutoa said that the reason for going to Gauteng was to see what had been established.

Ms Xingwana noted that there were no concerns with the Successes of the Act, 2.1 the DVA and 2.2 of the Maintenance Act. Under the achievements of the OSW and Gender Focal points it was suggested that the words 'centres and networks' needed to be included because nongovernmental organisations also dealt with domestic violence. Amendments were also suggested as including the word 'affirmative' action and especially rural women. It was suggested that the provinces named should be reads as Free State, North West and Northern Cape.

Ms Themba said that networks fell under nongovernmental organisations.

Ms Xingwana defended said that the projects had been for rural women.

Ms Maloyi suggested that instead of 'given to women', it should read 'prioritised for women'.

Ms M Semple (DA) ? suggested the words 'some provincial departments' because currently it meant somewhere else.

Ms Themba explained that Gender Focal Points (GFP's) were where all the gender functions met.

Ms Maloyi said that gender forums were where people met. Some provinces had a forum for gender therefore the sentence was correct as it was.

Ms Xingwana said that it was a matter of semantics.

Mr Surty said that gender forums were found in some departments that interacted horizontally across provinces.

Ms Xingwana said that the sentence was not saying that.

Ms M Semple suggested that instead of the word 'across' the word 'in some' should be put in.

Rev A D Goosen (ANC) said that there was nothing wrong the statement in its current form.

Ms Morutoa agreed with the Reverend and moved that the statement be left as it was because across the provinces some departments had formed forums.

Ms J N Vilakazi (IFP) agreed that the statement should be left as it was.

Ms Xingwana said that in her view gender forums had been formed but some departments and provinces had not formed them.

Ms M Semple (DA) said that gender forums were only found in some departments across provinces.

Rev. Goosen said that across provinces only some departments had formed gender forums.

Ms Themba said that the committee should understand gender forums. Gender forums derived gender focal points from different departments.

Ms Bernice Sono (DA) asked what the general experience had been. She used the example of the Eastern Cape where the various stakeholders - the magistrates and the South African Police Services (SAPS) had been able to discuss and tailor their synergy towards the implementation of the Act. The statement captured the nature of gender forums thus it should be left as it was because it was a true reflection.

Ms Maloyi suggested that the words 'are constituted in some departments in some provinces' in order to capture all the suggested amendments.

Ms Xingwana agreed with the suggestion.

Mr Surty suggested that the words' procurement opportunities have been created for rural women' be included instead of the word 'tender'.

Ms Xingwana agreed with the suggestion.

Rev. Goosen said that on the 3rd line from the bottom the word 'their' implied the loss on a continuous basis. The word 'are' should be used instead or the words 'not being utilised'.

Ms Vilakazi agreed with this.

Ms Xingwana questioned the issue of 'women abuse of protection orders' under 'Abuse of Protection orders'.

Ms Themba explained that it was both men and women who were abusing protection orders.

Ms D G Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked about men's abuse.

Ms Morutoa asked what the committee was trying to correct on that aspect because it should be left as it was.

Ms Xingwana explained that it was just a discussion.

Mr Surty said that both men and women abuse protection orders with protection orders being used for issues other than protection. He suggested that the words 'on an issue not related to abuse' be added to clarify the matter.

Ms M S Maine (ANC) said that the point should emphasise that women should not abuse protection orders. In most of the cases that were heard on the visits women were mentioned as the leaders of this. It was an educational issue that women should not abuse the laws.

Mr Surty asked about dual protection orders under 'dual protection orders'. Did dual protection orders exist? There was no law regarding dual protections orders therefore the word 'dual' should be removed other people would come and apply for it.

Ms Sono made a comment about 'language is often a barrier' regarding language barriers. Forms for domestic violence were not translated into any African languages. She recommended that the committee should make an effort to instigate the simplification of forms and the translation of forms into African languages.

Ms Xingwana agreed that the recommendation would be added to that section.

Ms Themba pointed out that the issue did form one of the recommendations.

Ms Xingwana asked if there were any problems with the section dealing with the Maintenance Act.

Ms Maloyi said that 'lack of proper functioning health services' there was an issue regarding rape cases. Police personnel had indicated that when they took rape cases to hospitals they were not prioritised therefore the systems was slow. Rape cases should be prioritised and police personnel should have access to health care services with ease.

Ms Xingwana said that it was noted. She asked about 'service providers are uncooperative, insensitive, biased, racist and open to bribery'. She suggested that 'some' service providers be added on because some service providers worked very hard.

Mr Surty agreed with the Chair. He suggested that after the full stop the sentence 'some service providers are effective' be added.

Ms Nthabiseng Khunou (ANC) asked about interim protection because it was not covered in the protection order.

Ms Xingwana explained that it was a stated as problem. The committee was dealing with problems found.

Ms Khunou asked for clarity on dual protection orders.

Ms Xingwana explained that women and men have protection orders simultaneously.

Mr Surty explained that Ms Khunou was concerned about the time during the interim where there is no protection. He suggested that under pg 6 the words 'or is made final' be included.

Ms Xingwana said that dual and interim would be taken together.

Ms Sono said that there was an absence on pg6 'absence of social workers' of the issue of forensic units (These are only found in Gauteng). She moved that the issue be included before the Maintenance Act.

Ms Xingwana agreed.

Ms Morutoa asked what would be the point. There had been a report in Gauteng regarding rape.

Ms Xingwana explained that explained that district surgeons did not how to fill out the rape forms and in most cases they ran away from the lawyers to avoid court processes resulting in the form being useless in court. Therefore forensic units were needed in order to deal with rape to avoid this.

Mr Surty suggested that the issue of forensic staff should be added to 'lack of proper functioning health services'. He questioned whether the issue was not dealt with on pg7 under the MA.

Ms Xingwana explained that the section was for the MA and the committee was dealing specifically with DVA, which was an independent item.

Ms Khunou asked what the word 'unfriendly' meant regarding the issue of the lack of accommodation under the MA.

Ms M Semple suggested that the word 'hostile' should be used because women felt threatened by the situation.

Ms Maloyi explained that in some provinces there were two queues in opposition. One had men paying maintenance and the other had women collecting the maintenance.

Ms Xingwana agreed that the word 'hostile' was the right word.

Rev. Goosen felt that the word 'hostile' was too harsh. Hostility arose towards the situation and not the person.

Mr Surty suggested that the words 'unaccommodative or inappropriate' be used because the accommodation and the environment were not suitable.

Ms Xingwana said that inappropriateness was sometimes hostile.

Mr Surty explained that the lack of accommodation was a different issue. It was the attitude of the personnel that was hostile.

Ms Xingwana suggested that the name of the bullet should be changed to 'Inappropriate Environment'. In the first paragraph of pg 8 it was suggested that the Beijing Platform of Action be mentioned. The mandate was that countries had to set up platforms to mainstream gender and it should be linked to the terms of reference. It was agreed.

Ms M Semple brought up a technical amendment in the section 'Communication between legislatures' .

Ms Xingwana agreed to this. She suggested that the words 'the problem here is that most provinces have no monitoring corresponding legislating committee in the provincial legislatures for communication and co-ordination' be added. It was agreed. There was a major concern around the gender machinery and the budget, which was not clearly portrayed in the section 'budgets'. Budgets must be made into a big issue because the budget was very low. The OSW, JMC and the CGE had the lowest budgets and it had to be made clear.

Ms Maloyi said that this issue would be subject to debate because with the PFMA of the Premiers gender was mainstreamed through the departments.

Ms Xingwana said that 2 million a year for a budget only covered salaries. The general concern was that there the JMC was made up of 2 committees but it had the lowest budgets. Women were always expected to sacrifice.

Mr Surty said that all budgets were severely limited.

Ms Xingwana said that the report must be specific and point out that the budget was inadequate.

Ms Sono agreed that this was a serious problem. Women made up 52% of the population and the JMC had to monitor international instruments governing gender. The JMC had to be taken more seriously and this applied to the budget given.

Ms Thembu agreed that the issues affecting the committee should be discussed. However she pointed out that the current brief was to deal with the responses about the report.

Ms Khunou asked if the committee had decided on whether to change the bullet regarding budgets.

Ms Xingwana said that it had been agreed. The 'absence of a committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women in Provinces' the addition was suggested as 'to monitor the implementation of legislation' and 'no corresponding JMC'.

Ms Nhlengethwa brought up 'all provinces visited had OSWs' n relation to the section 'absence of a committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women in Provinces' Was the issue not covered in the latter point?

Ms Xingwana said that Gauteng did not have an OSW and the committee did not have the power to influence policy.

Ms Khunou suggested that the OSW should be part of the higher ranks of leadership and this should be included after 'Rank of GFPs'.

Ms Thembu pointed out that the concern around the gender machinery involved the rank of the OSW too.

Ms Morutoa said that there was a lack of gender policy throughout all the national departments.

Ms Xingwana agreed that there was a concern about the national gender policy framework where the different departments were mandated to set up gender policies. Currently only health and justice had set policies at provincial level.

Ms Morutoa said that it should have been detected by the committee because it was their role to monitor implementation and progress.

Ms Maloyi suggested that the sentence 'Most OSW have not authority or hierarchical accountability therefore the bodies lack impact' be added.

Ms Xingwana ruled that the need for the clarity of the status of the OSW would be part of the recommendations. The drafters would look at the report and include the concerns raised. Basically this was the need for the gender national framework to be developed by departments (besides health and justice). Concerns around the recommendations were asked for.

Ms Sono raised the issue of district surgeons under 'Forensic training for medical practitioners'. The committee had to have a stronger position on the removal of district surgeons within the health system and the ramifications of their removal. The committee needed to do in depth follow up research to see what vital roles district surgeons play within the system. The removal of district surgeons was a policy thus something stronger was needed from the committee.

Ms Xingwana asked what the alternative was.

Ms Sono explained that research was needed to find out what the alternatives were.

Ms Xingwana asked would happen.

Ms M M Malamusi (ANC) said that district surgeons used to mismanage their positions and that there were no district surgeons in rural areas it was something that affected urban areas.

Ms Xingwana asked the committee if they were amending the recommendations.

Ms Sono reiterated that research was needed to ascertain the impact.

Ms Xingwana said that the restoring of district surgeons was not necessary because under the section they had already recommended that any doctor should be able to deal with rape cases and they had motivated that all doctors should receive forensic training. Under the 'Holistic Approach' 'transport facilities and necessary resources' should be added. Pg 12, 13, 14 and 15 were agreed to in the current form. A concern was raised about judges treatment of the DVA and rape cases. It was felt that in terms of gender sensitivity judges were severely lacking.

Ms Maloyi said that the issue should be part of outcomes because it was an important issue.

Ms Xingwana asked for comments on the lack of sensitivity of judges, magistrates and the judiciary.

Ms Morutoa said that judges, magistrates and the judiciary also stifled the work of others by their attitudes.

Ms Nhlengethwa said that the meeting with judges and magistrates provincially had not been very successful with some of the judiciary not even bothering to attend. It was an issue that needed to be included within the recommendations.

Ms Thembu said that the drafters would check on the concerns about judges and their attitude to gender and rape cases and include it in the report.

Ms C Rustin (Researcher) pointed out that under ongoing training for police, judges, magistrates and prosecutors on the section on Education and training the issue was not adequately covered.

Ms Morutoa still insisted that something more should be added because the general trend was refusal within the judiciary.

Ms Maloyi said that the judiciary as a whole needed to be changed.

Ms Xingwana asked for direction.

Ms Thembu suggested that the issue could be dealt with at the end and more concerns could be raised.

Ms Xingwana moved onto the Maintenance Act. These aspect of the report were adopted.

Ms Sono asked about the mediation process in maintenance affairs.

Ms Xingwana explained that in some provinces they found that there were maintenance counsellors that were mediating between mothers and fathers. It was possible that the recommendations should include that an alternative could be used as opposed to immediately declaring parties as criminals of the state. The MA said that it was a criminal offence but that there should be room for social problems. Issues with the section on Gender Machinery was raised on pg 17.

Ms Malamusi asked about the section on the 'Appointment of Gender Focal Points (GFPs) and asked what qualifications were needed.

Ms Thembu said that gender was a need.

Ms Malamusi asked if it just meant knowledge of women's issues. What qualifications would be needed for such an appointment.

Ms Maloyi pointed out that the section on the 'Rank of GFPs' dealt with the issue.

Rev Goosen suggested that the word 'qualified' should be deleted.

Ms Xingwana said that a person would have to be skilled and qualified on issues regarding gender.

Ms M Semple suggested that the words 'skilled and experienced' should be added.

Ms Nhlengethwa suggested that the bill should mention volunteering.

Ms Maloyi said that under the 'location of GFPs' the evaluation of the heads of departments and director generals should include the progress of gender policy within their departments.

Ms Xingwana was concerned that the section was only dealing with GFPs and not OSW. OSW should be at director level and this would require skills and experience with leadership qualities.

Ms Khunou said that under the location of GFPs evaluation should be added.

Ms Xingwana said that Ms Morutoa had raised a valid point about the location of the OSW. It should be included on the 2nd bullet on pg 18. On the same bullet it was recommended that the Social Development Unit in Gauteng be officially renamed as an OSW based in the office of the Premier in line with the need for uniformity.

Ms Morutoa asked if the 'Committee in Legislature' section was addressing the same issue. Clarity was asked for.

Ms Xingwana said that she did not understand the section 'working relationship between national and provincial machineries' which was before the 'committee in legislature'.

Ms Nhlengethwa said that the 'committee in legislature' brought attention to the issue.

Ms Xingwana said that it could be called senior staff and that the 'working relationship between national and provincial machineries' had to be redrafted.

Ms Maine said that there was no communication at provincial and national level regarding GFPs. A programme needed to be facilitated so that the same programmes were not being replicated. The drafters would have to look at the relationship at national level and then streamline the process then word it correctly in the report. In the Conclusion everyone who assisted particularly SAPS would have to be thanked. Concerns should be raised about magistrates and judges who did not attend. The committee had to ensure that the provinces received a report.

Ms Xingwana said that individual reports would be sent.

Ms Malamusi reminded the committee that they did not receive a welcome from all the Premiers and this should be noted.

Ms Xingwana said that the provinces would be identified where this occurred because some Premiers were very helpful. Did the committee agree in endorsing and adopting the report as a true reflection.

Ms M Semple said that she would want to see all the changes first but that she did agree in principle.

Ms Xingwana adopted the report and the amendments to the report.

Ms Maine moved.

Ms N Kkabide (UDM) seconded the motion.

The meeting was adjourned.


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