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Speech by Hon Jerome Maake (ANC) during the debate on Violence against Women and Children

18 October 2017

1. INTRODUCTION

South Africa achieved democracy in 1994. Central to this democracy was a commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Gender equality is a founding principle and core right of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and its founding principles elevate human rights, equality and freedom for everyone in South Africa.

However, violence against women and children did not disappear with the introduction of the Constitution and all the rights, which are enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We come from a past where violence was a norm including the previous state which was violent and justified violence. Within this context, women and children suffered violence and abuse in various forms; physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, economically, etc. children did not escape the same.

With the dawn of democracy, the ANC led government-introduced measures that promoted an integrated approach in the strategies to eliminate the above scourge. The National Crime Prevention Strategy of 1996 inculcated a victim-centred approach in the criminal justice system. The spin-off has been a plethora of legislation, either new or amended, that affirms victims' rights and ranges from firearm control to domestic violence legislation. Protocols, norms and standards have been developed, for example, the Uniform Protocol for Services for Victims of Crime, 2005, the Patients' Rights Charter and the NPA Customer Services Charter.

Institutional mechanisms such as the Specialised Sexual Offences Courts; Thuthuzela Care Centres; Family, Child and Sexual Offences Units; Domestic Violence Courts; Correctional Supervision Boards and others were established in order to create space and provide institutional arrangement for recourse and to promote women's human rights.

While it is the primary responsibility of Government to provide strong leadership and a coordinated and integrated approach to tackling this scourge, reducing violence against women and children is a shared responsibility across the South African society as a whole and cannot be achieved by Government alone. Structural barriers in the economic, political, social and environmental levels reinforced racial and gender inequalities. Women continues to be marginalized and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities, the labour market as well as access to land, credit, and finance, which makes them prone to violence and abuse.

The ANC government appreciated the importance of understanding the causes of domestic violence as some of the perpetrators are themselves victims of domestic violence; which makes it important to include counselling in order to change the mind-set of the perpetrators, and emphasise re-socialisation and reorientation of the perpetrators of violence against women and children to facilitate their understanding that women are their equals and part of the society, in promoting a non-racial and non-sexist, democratic society and equal society. The approach to this scourge has been multipronged in order to ensure that we address even the causes of gender-based violence.

Honourable Speaker, this House is aware that our interventions in policing our people have not been in vain. We are making slow, but steady progress in the fight against abuse of women and children. We have to acknowledge that 100% (1144) police stations render a victim friendly service for victims and survivors of rape, sexual offences, domestic violence and abuse. In order for them to render a victim friendly service, the SAPS must comply with the following conditions:

1. The police station must have had at least 50% of their operational members completed a completed one or more of the following training courses: Victim Empowerment Learning Programme, Domestic Violence Learning Programme, Vulnerable Children Learning Programme and First Responders to Sexual Offences Learning Programme.

2. The police station must have a Victim Friendly Room where the woman or child can receive support and counselling survivor of violence that allows for privacy during statement taking in cases of gender-based or intimate violence.

3 Third that a station order has been issued to direct the management of victim services at the police station, including referral to other service providers, management of the VFR and/or the alternate arrangements referred to above and where applicable, management of volunteers.

The Minister of Police has also shown his commitment to deal with violence against women and children by initiating a Summit on Gender Based Violence in September 2017. We also know that he has developed a six-point plan to deal with Gender Based Violence. These include:
1. All victims should be treated with respect, dignity and interviewed by trained police officers in a victim-sensitive manner;

2.Victims should be assisted at the Victim Friendly Room or an alternative room where the statement will be taken in private at the Police Station or other locations providing victim support services;

3. Victims will be referred /taken for medical examination by the healthcare professional to obtain medical evidence and complete a medical report;

4 The investigation should be conducted by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit (FCS Units) or a detective with relevant training;

5.The families of victims of sexual offences, feticide and infanticide should be referred to the victim support services that are available within the precinct for legal, medical, social and psychological help; and

6. Victims should be proactively provided with feedback on the progress of their cases on a continuous basis.

Conclusion

The government and the department of Police in particular has identified and classified violence against women and children as a priority crime. This has been so all along in the police service. This is proved by the fact that every police station is obliged by the law to have.

The Portfolio committee on police has organized a summit for gender violence. Conviction of perpetrators is low, and that might be because of poor training. The approach by the law enforcement structures including the portfolio committee of police has to work together and forget about grandstanding, as this sector deals with the safety and lives of our citizens. These types of crimes stem from societal problems. The police can only be reactive as these problems happen within people's houses away from the Public. Solving these, crimes therefore we need a multifaceted approach involving different departments.

     
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