7 February 2013

South Africa: Parliament Must Enable National Dialogue On Rape Crisis in South Africa

Photo: Reinnier Kazé/IRIN
(file photo):Campaign against rape

press release

The brutal gang-rape and murder of a 17 year old South African woman has shocked and saddened me. I can only imagine the intense pain Anene Booysen's family, friends and loved ones must be feeling during this time of grief. South Africa grieves with them.

It is time to ask the tough questions that for too long we have avoided. We live in a deeply patriarchal and injured society where the rights of women are not respected. Indeed, there is a silent war against the children and women of this country - and we need all South Africans to unite in the fight against it.

Parliament - the people's assembly - should be at the forefront of this battle. With that in mind, I will table at the first opportunity a motion for debate on the on-going scourge of violence against children and women in South Africa, which risks destroying everything that makes ours a great country. The National Assembly must ask these tough questions on behalf of the people we represent, and we must seek and implement the solutions.

I will also contact both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and propose that Parliament look into hosting and facilitating special public hearings so that we can begin a national dialogue on South Africa's rape and sexual violence crisis. I will also be in contact with all political parties represented in the National Assembly to seek their support for this initiative. The fight against rape and the need to heal the deep wounds of our country are not partisan issues. They should occupy all of our minds.

Lastly, I will also request that the Intersectoral Committee for the Management of Sexual Offences Matters, established in terms of the Sexual Offences Act, report to Parliament on government's detailed plan to deal with the rape crisis. This committee consists of the Director General of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Commisioners of the SAPS and of Correctional Services, respectively, and the Directors General of Social Development and Health, and the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The fight against violence and crime in South Africa will not be an easy one. It will require that every South African and institution, private or public, take a stand against these unconscionable crimes. A national dialogue will enable us to begin this process, and Parliament is best placed to make this a reality.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance

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