Johannesburg: As the country commemorates 16 Days of Activism for Non-violence Against Women and Children, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says the focus should be on prevention and women’s economic justice.
Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking on Tuesday at the start of the annual campaign which aims to put a spotlight on gender-based violence (GBV).
The campaign runs from November 25 to December 16 and is usually packed with events focused on GBV issues.
The theme for this year’s campaign is “women’s economic justice for a non-violent and non-sexist South Africa”.
Nkoana-Mashabane launched the campaign along with other ministers who form part of the inter-ministerial committee on gender-based violence and femicide.
The launch focused heavily on preventing GBV, but also on the idea that women being economically empowered could help prevent many cases of GBV.
“The theme also highlights the role of women in the world of work, access to opportunities, unfair treatment, and being counted as an equal citizen even at male-dominated sectors. It also links to women’s ability to leave abusive relationships which they endure due to economic dependency,” the minister said in her opening address.
Nkoana-Mashabane said preventing GBV starts with society changing its views on women. She said women need to feel safe and that legislation alone would not provide the desired results without proper social change that is needed to prevent the scourge.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said SAPS officials often faced the challenge of cases being dropped as women would be pressured to do so by families and friends. He said violence cannot be talked away and that seeing the cases through was crucial.
Cele said statistics show that SAPS has been improving on reacting to gender-based violence cases, but he said more work needs to be done on prevention. He said in some instances police reacted only after the victim had died.
He said his department was working on training SAPS officers in dealing with GBV cases and that the aim was to have each police station in the country staffed with people who will be dedicated to GBV cases.
He acknowledged that the attitude of some police officers was poor in assisting victims of GBV.
Cele highlighted that 5 534 life sentences were imposed in the last 10 years on cases handled by the SAPS Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS)
He said since July this year, the unit along with Natopma; Prosecuting Authority had ensured more than 90 life sentences for GBV cases.
Cele said more than 300 police officers were being trained to join the FCS units to be based at police stations.
There are more than1 500 police stations in the country and Cele admits the small number of trainees was insufficient to fill the gap currently.
He said the top five police stations with poor GBV response, some based in KwaZulu-Natal, will be picked and staffed with SAPS officers specifically focused on GBV. | Political Bureau