South Africa: Gender Commission Calls for Action Against GBV

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) says the time for rhetoric talk has come and gone.

But, it is calling for decisive action to be taken to bring justice to the families who have lost their loved ones due to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).

"Those that have been raped and their bodies brutalised, those still seeking answers as to what happened to their loved ones and those that are afraid to come forward because they do not trust their perpetrators will ever get punished," the Commission said.

The women in the country are under siege, with the number of GBVF cases having increased since the relaxation of the hard lockdown.

"Many are survivors of intimate partner violence although not fatal this time around, it is likely to have more traumatic outcomes and, in some instances, should they not get the necessary help and support."

The CGE said it was saddened by these killings and violence meted against women, children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable members of the community.

"Amongst those that have been reported killed in the past weeks are Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni, all young women who were killed by men," the Commission said.

The elderly have not been spared either and the victims include an 89-year-old grandmother who was killed in an old age home in Queenstown, a 79-year-old woman was murdered in Brakpan, while another elderly woman was raped in KwaSwayimane in KwaZulu-Natal.

Meanwhile, seven-year-old Raynecia Kotjie was also murdered in the Western Cape, while another six-year-old was found dead in a sugar cane field in KwaZulu-Natal.

"GBVF continues to be an urgent issue for the country and currently, women, girls are faced with the many social, economic, health and access related issues whilst fighting the novel coronavirus and Gender Based-Violence and Femicide, both raging in this country."

While the Commission applauds the police for moving swiftly in arresting some of the alleged perpetrators of the heinous crimes, it said it wants to see justice when there are successful prosecutions.

"We are also cognisant that our justice system tends to take long in prosecuting cases of GBVF, the Commission hopes this can be corrected as we have seen in some cases there was a swift movement in prosecuting."

It believes that the judicial system must play a significant role in ensuring that all the rhetoric statements are realised by actions by prosecuting criminals against women and girls for lengthy jail sentences.

"It is on the same vein that appropriate legislation is supported to ensure that when those who have committed such distasteful acts applied for bail for GBVF, the rights and safety of survivors are considered."

The Commission said the alleged perpetrators often threaten their victims into withdrawing cases or worse to kill the victims when given bail.

The entity believes that it was everyone's responsibility to help flatten the curve against GBV.

"Resources should be channelled in fighting the GBVF pandemic. Police, prosecutors, magistrates and judges should be sensitized about the scourge of gender-based violence and cases be reviewed to ensure that the victim-centred approach to bring justice is upheld."

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