16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: MEPs want more than a ‘crazy exercise’

  • MEPs questioned the usefulness of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
  • Opposition MPs criticized the government, pointing to recent statistics on sexual violence crime.
  • Some ANC MPs complained that the opposition was “politicizing” the debate.

As the National Assembly debated on Thursday 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV), as every year, opposition deputies criticized the government and questioned the futility of debating it then as the plague continues, seemingly unabated.

Opening the debate, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said: “Year after year we come to this honorable house to repeat almost the same thing, with the hope that the nation as a whole will finally hear the cries. women and children, who find themselves in these difficult conditions of gender-based violence. “

She then described the government’s plans on gender-based violence.

DA MP Nazley Sharif said it was rather laughable that the government adopted “Going from Awareness to Responsibility” as the theme of this year’s campaign.

“What does that even mean, though? Who is this government that will come here today and take responsibility for its failures?” she said.

“What responsibility are you talking about? If you come up with this theme, you have to submit to be held accountable here today, without looking defensive and pathetic.

She said the fight against GBV was stagnant and a plan meant nothing if it wasn’t implemented with precision, political will, effective teams and strong leadership.

“Your theories, your plans, your repetitive speeches mean nothing. And, for that, you have to take responsibility. Stop with your rhetoric. No one believes you anymore,” Sharif said.

“You can have all the themes you want. You can have all the debates you want. It doesn’t change the fact that we live in a country where I can leave Parliament right after this debate, and I could be harassed, raped, assaulted or murdered. This is the country we live in. “

READ | Ramaphosa calls on men to do more to prevent gender-based violence, following staggering rape statistics

EFF MP Omphile Maotwe said not only is violence against women increasing, but “the level of brutality is also becoming more sadistic”.

“The institutions meant to protect women from these crimes seem to be crossing their hands or are woefully overwhelmed, and do not know what to do with these crimes.”

She said the 16-day campaign had become a “nonsense rocket exercise”, giving women no respite.

She said:

We are fed up with having to participate in this rocket exercise every year when women are being killed every day. We are tired of empty talk and expensive functions, but no results for the protection of women in this country. We are tired of this rhetoric and believe that gender-based violence and femicide are an opportunity and must be addressed within a time frame. We need action manje [now], not tomorrow, not later.

“We need decisive leadership, not the clownish conduct of the SAPS and the Minister of Police.”

IFP Magdalena Hlengwa said, as they gathered for the debate, “South African women are still waging a war against the monster of gender-based violence.”

“We cannot begin to debate socio-economic empowerment when our women and children are slaughtered almost daily, like animals.”

FF Plus MP Tammy Breedt said the National Assembly has debated gender-based violence and femicide at least 12 times since the start of the Sixth Legislature in 2019.

“And what tangible difference have these debates, these campaigns, these discussion workshops made for abused women and children? None.

“I am frustrated with the lack of change,” she said.

“South Africans are frustrated with the lack of change.”

Most opposition speakers used the latest crime statistics to illustrate the government’s failure to tackle the problem.

Between July and September, 897 women were murdered, an increase of 7.7% over the previous year, 287 children were murdered, an increase of 31.7%, and sexual offenses increased by 4, 7%, with 9,556 rapes, up 7.1% from the previous year. second quarter of the year 8,922.

MPs also mentioned the backlog in DNA cases and the government’s failure to establish the national gender-based violence council.

READ | Crime Statistics: Child Murders Rise 31.7% Year-Over-Year, Sexual Offenses Up

ACDP Marie Sukers added another problem to the mix – the election of convicted child rapist Jeffrey Donson of Icosa as mayor of Kannaland, with ANC backing.

Sukers said:

The Kannaland debacle should never have happened. The African National Congress has further tarnished the legacy of people like Charlotte Maxeke and Albert Luthuli in their support for Icosa. And it was only after enormous pressure that he made the decision to withdraw from the deal.

“It was a terrible example of moral leadership which also tarnished the credibility of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC as a so-called progressive movement.

“In Kannaland there is a culture of exploitation that looks like the past, a culture of impunity where young girls are exploited by men for their economic survival – sex for gifts or money.

“The ANC should apologize to the nation for its support for Icosa in this municipality as it has endorsed the sexual abuse of minors, the exploitation of women, and it continues to apologize for rape by powerful men in the name of political expediency. “

Only one speaker from the ANC answered this question.

ANC MP Simphiwe Mbatha said: “We have distanced ourselves. We do not support this mayor.”

READ ALSO | The ANC withdraws from the coalition with Icosa in the municipality of Kannaland

Indeed, the ANC announced on Wednesday that it would no longer work with Icosa in Kannaland.

Donson was convicted in 2008 of statutory rape, which was widely known before his re-election as mayor.

ANC MPs Jane Mananiso and Xola Nqola complained that the opposition was “politicizing” the debate and “playing the blame game”.

“It is indeed that as ANC, we always stress that creating safer communities, healthy and stable cities is our responsibility,” said Mananiso.

“As a government, we have a duty and a responsibility to devote the necessary resources to tackling gender-based violence crimes.

She claimed that the ANC Women’s League had adopted programs that disrupted “national, social and gender oppression.”

“These 16 days of activism are 16 days of action. As we have seen, we have problems and loopholes in our institutions,” she said.

Mbatha said, “With our words, we have spoken out against people who abuse women, children and vulnerable people, but the violence does not seem to be abating. How are we to understand this?

“How do we explain the fact that our powerful words and condemnation didn’t have much impact in terms of behavior change? My explanation is that evil prevails when good does nothing.”

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