President Cyril Ramaphosa convened a National Summit on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Pretoria last week on November 1-2, as a response to part of the first demand made by #TheTotalShutdown when womxn marched on August 1st against GBV.
With over 1,200 delegates from diverse backgrounds representing survivors, activists, government, civil society, unions, traditional leaders, and many more who are working against and/or affected by GBV, the Summit opened with a powerful plenary. The plenary gave the President a frontline seat to listen to the voices of survivors who shared their painful personal experiences at the hands of violent men in this country and how justice also failed them and thus continuing their victimization and vulnerability.
Anchored by the #24Demands from #TheTotalShutdown, the Summit program included breakout sessions in commissions themed around what these demands seek to accomplish. These were: Accountability, Coordination, Law & Policy, Prevention, Response & Support, and Communications. Furthermore, the commitments in the President’s keynote address pre-empted some of the key asks expected from the commissions. Among others, some of these commitments were:
President affirmed the importance and relevance of all #24Demands delivered by #TheTotalShutdown;
President committed to supporting a national registry of protection orders;
President committed to funding of the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs);
President committed to seeking resources, including financial, where that’s the main impediment to implementation of GBV related plans.
Subsequently, the commissions further affirmed and expanded on the #24Demands as articulated in the pending declaration from the Summit. Key on the pending declaration is a call for the creation of an Emergency Interim structure to ensure accountability and coordinate government’s response to GBV, and a clear call to decriminalize sex work.
We are not going anywhere. #TheTotalShutdown intends to continue advocating and mobilizing for real, tangible results and solutions to end this scourge of violence against women, children, and gender non-conforming (GNC) people. We are here to hold government and all South Africans accountable to ensure that women, children, and GNC people may also enjoy their constitutional rights.
Although the Summit was an important accomplishment towards the #24Demands, it marks only a first, albeit important, step in the dialogue between government and civil society on GBV. However, the occurrence of GBV-related incidents is at a national crisis, and it requires more than just dialogue but decisive and immediate action to protect womxn and children. It is therefore critical for #TheTotalShutdown to continue its relentless fight and fierce mobilization against perpetrators and systems that fail victims, both online and in communities in all the nine (9) provinces where womxn and GNC people marched, until all #24Demands have been met.