United Nations Commission Invitation & Media Report on Taxi Rank Attacks

Monitoring Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women

19 February 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Members expressed their deep concern about an article published in the Sowetan about youngwho who had been attacked at a taxi rank. This was highlighted as a violation of human rights. It was agreed that the Chairperson should write a statement to the media, and read out another statement in both Houses; and also that the matter be raised with other relevant bodies and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Transport. The importance of Members highlighting gender issues in the other Committees in which they participated was highlighted.

It was agreed that the Chairperson and Ms Semple would participate in the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Meeting report

Violence on women at taxi ranks.
Ms N Mazibuko (ANC) requested an additional item to be placed on the agenda, being the molestation of women at taxi ranks. She circulated a copy of an article published in the Sowetan, giving the story of young women who had been shockingly attacked at a taxi rank, who were beaten, their clothes torn, and paraded in front of other commuters. This was about the fourth such occurrence. Women wearing mini skirts often received verbal abuse from taxi drivers, but the police ignored it.

Ms Mazibuko noted that this Committee had oversight over other departments, such as Department of Safety and Security, and there was a need to really start addressing the issue. There was perhaps also a need to engage with the taxi industry, and if there were safety issues then look at what precautionary measures could be put in place to protect women. She further suggested that the Committee issue a statement condemning such actions.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) concurred. The Committee must take the issue very seriously and get across the message that this behaviour was unacceptable.

Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) agreed. She also suggested this be raised in the Transport Portfolio Committee. This was a cultural issue and many young black women were being harassed for wearing the same fashionable outfits as young white women. That was another issue.

The Chairperson agreed that she would raise the matter with the Transport Committee.

Ms M Themba (ANC) proposed that Members should perhaps raise the matter at the Transport Committee, if they were Members of that Committee also. She further suggested that the Chairperson prepare a statement for the media, and another statement to be read in both Houses.

Ms Masilo felt that there was no need to go to another meeting, as it might be disruptive. She would agreed that the Chairperson issue a statement, and also suggested that the Chairperson write a letter to the Taxi Association. Perhaps the issue could be addressed in future oversight visits, especially in Gauteng.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) agreed, asking the Chairperson to ask the Transport Committee to include this matter in their programme.

The Chairperson thought that it was appropriate for those Members who served also on other committees to ensure that gender issues were discussed. She would clarify the mandate of this Committee to the Transport Committee, suggesting that it was a relevant agenda item. 

Ms Mazibuko suggested that, within the limitations of the committee programme, a day should be set aside for public hearings at a taxi rank, inviting all stakeholders, including the Commission on Gender Equality, researchers and media. She suggested copies of the Sowetan report should be circulated.

Ms Ntuli felt this was a human rights issue, and there was a need for the Taxi Association to take responsibility and educate their members.

The Chairperson said this would be a continuous campaign. Men who were involved in this harassment must be educated. Other issues were involved, apart from the violation of human rights.

Ms S Camerer (DA) suggested copying the article to the Human Rights Commission, indicating that the Committee was taking this up, and asking whether they had taken any active steps.

The Chairperson asked that Ms Camerer and Ms Themba meet with her as soon as possible to draft a statement. 

Attendance at meetings

Ms M Meruti (ANC) raised the issue of attendance at meetings. She urged that it was vital for this Committee, fighting for women’s rights, to be serious. The Committee must scrutinise all legislation for gender issues. She pleaded for Members to try to attend all meetings.

Ms Mazibuko suggested the Committee have a strategic plan to identify issues. She raised the point that Friday meetings often were compromised when Members had to catch flights. She asked that the programme be reconsidered to accommodate those who had to leave.

Ms Themba (ANC, NCOP) submitted that NCOP members should ensure attendance by alternates during provincial weeks. She wondered if Thursday afternoon meetings would be more suitable.

Ms J Masilo (ANC, NCOP) endorsed that.

The Chairperson indicated that she had a meeting with the Committee Section although unfortunately the Chair and Deputy Chair were not there. They were quite aware of those problems. A decision was taken to inform the Committee Section how this committee was operating. The ANC was very serious about attendance and there would be assessments of performance. Gender was one of the most important topics to be assessed insofar as compliance with international instruments were concerned. She pointed out that the NA members only could meet, although this was not ideal.

52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW); New York, 25 February to 07 March 2008
Ms Morutoa read the invitation from the Office of the Presidency. She noted that more than one representative was given permission to attend. It was agreed that the Chairperson and Ms Semple attend and this would be conveyed to the Office on the Status of Women.

The meeting was adjourned.


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