The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) is deeply appalled and saddened by the level of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa. Despite years of activism and progressive legislation in combatting GBV, GBV remains a sad and shameful reality in South Africa and the whole world. The United Nation’s High Commission of Human Rights Committee on The Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) describes GBV as “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that effects women disproportionately”. GBV is a violation of women’s human rights and a form of discrimination against women. It is reported that no country in the world is free from GBV.
GBV can be emotional, physical and/or sexual. Women experience GBV in the hands of those in their private and public sphere. Just the other day our very own Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, admitted to assaulting a woman outside a Johannesburg Club. It is disappointing, to say the very least, that a leader of society, who should be leading the fight against GBV, is implicated in perpetrating GBV. NADEL condemns the Deputy Minister’s behaviour with the contempt it deserves and accordingly calls on the Deputy Minister to resign.
Video footage of an incident at Siyathuthuka Secondary in Inanda, Duran showing a 17 year old girl being assaulted by a male schoolmate while another boy, who was filming the incident, encouraged the assaulter, surfaced on social media recently. The parent of the 17 year old victim is reported to have said that when they went to lay charges against the boy, who allegedly assaulted their daughter, the police refused to charge him, stating that it wouldn't help as the courts would release him (alleged perpetrator) on bail. It is unfortunate that a girl child experiences GBV in a school (a place that is meant to be safe and for learning) and in the hands of a peer. Cases of children being perpetrators of GBV are sad because it shows that the cycle of GBV will not end with our generation. A question that arises is how are we socialising our children? What is it that we teach them that makes them so insensitive to violence? The gravity of this particular case is amplified by the police's alleged unwillingness to arrest the perpetrator. One wonders how many other victims of GBV are sent away from police stations without receiving help.
NADEL condemns, with the contempt it deserves, GBV in all form and the lack of appropriate response thereto. While we appreciate that GBV is caused by multiple factors and no single and easy solution can be found, we call for efforts to reduce GBV to be heightened. We can no longer afford to be quiet or remain complacent regarding the violation of women’s rights. Collective efforts are needed to reduce and respond to GBV.
NADEL in its attempt to assist in the fight against GBV, developed a programme that teaches attorneys on human trafficking (which is a form of GBV). The programme teaches legal professionals how to identify human trafficking and what they can do to assist victims of human trafficking. The programme has been running for over a year now and has been distributed in many cities in the country. We are currently looking at other ways of contributing to the greater fight against GBV and the achievement of equality.
We call on government to prioritise GBV in order to ensure that South Africa becomes the state that was envisioned when the constitution was created, one that is based on democratic values, Social justice and fundamental human rights where every citizen is equally protected by the law.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA.