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ADHOC JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND STATUS OF WOMEN
3 June 1998
REPORTS ON WOMEN, THE BUDGET & ECONOMIC POLICY & VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN; SEXUAL ASSAULT LEGISLATION: BRIEFING
The Committee considered all the addendums and amendments to the bills as proposed. They appointed a sub-committee of three to lobby the Minister of Justice and Speaker of the House on crucial draft legislation. A submission on sexual assault legislation was given by the Rape Crisis Committee.
The Chair, Ms Govender, stressed that the Reports On Women, The Budget And Economic Policy and on the Violence Hearings must tabled this week. She urged that the suggestions made be considered urgently and the report be adopted.
The researcher, Ms Koriaan de Villiers, went through the addendums and amendments to the bills as proposed the previous week.
The researcher, reported on the workshop on customary marriage two weeks previously. She said that as a consequence of the workshop, the Committee is preparing a simple leaflet on the customary marriage issue for discussion in constituencies. The workshop raised the question of whether South Africa should have one type of marriage (unified) or many different kinds (as is presently the case). It was clear that the minority status of women should be abolished. The question of property rights will follow. On the issues of lobola and polygamy the Law Commission has not yet given a clear lead as it is a contentious area. There must be consent to marriage by both parties, aged not less than 18 years old. There is on-going debate on the role of chiefs and parents in marriage and divorce settlements.
The Chairperson informed the committee that there are 33 bills listed this session of which this committee considers four to be of critical importance (maintenance, domestic violence, sexual offences & customary law bills). It is not known when these bills will be tabled but the cut-off date for tabling them is 30 June. She suggested they elect a sub-committee to lobby the Deputy Minister of Justice and the Speaker. Ms Govender (ANC), Ms Smuts (DP), and Ms Porter (ANC) were elected as the sub-committee to meet the Justice Committee and go through all the points of difference.
Helene Combrinck and Bronwyn Pithey of the Rape Crisis Committee addressed the committee on the need for sexual assault legislation. The following issues were raised:
1 The definition of rape must be amended
2 The cautionary rule to be abolished
3 If there's no first report , a negative inference must not be drawn.
4 A woman's previous sexual life is irrelevant
5 Experts should include NGO councillors etc
6 Survivors should be entitled to their own legal representatives
7 Identity of complainant must be protected
8 Some magistrates misuse in camera provisions in that they exclude family and friends
9 Biological age is not enough. What about the mentally retarded person.
10 Many bodies which receives complaints are without teeth
11 Training of judicial officers
12 Sentencing and bail conditions not thought through
It was agreed that the committee would look at the information pack on customary law the following week, report back on getting the bills through Parliament, consider the Green Paper on Gender Equity and the attack in the courts on the Termination of Pregnancy Act.
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