16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities
16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities: 25 November – 10 December 2011
Hazel Bowen, President of the South African Association of Women Graduates (SAAWG) shared the following report on the South African Parliamentary briefing on the Concept Document for the Campaign on the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
Hon Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said that the campaign had previously focussed on women and children, and was now being extended to include people with disabilities. The Minister expressed her desire to work closely with all government departments in fulfilling the campaign’s mandate. She highlighted the fact that women, in the period following the country’s achieving democracy, had worked very hard to ensure that the rights of women were upheld, and that the issue of abuse and violence towards children was placed on the national agenda as a matter of priority.
She also noted that over the past few years, there had been great progress made in effecting legislation that is in line with this aim. Notable pieces of legislation included the Domestic Violence Act No 116 of 1998, The Maintenance Act No 99 of 1998, The Children’s Act No 38 of 2005, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act No 32 of 2007, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act No 4 of 2000, and the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998. All these pieces of legislation were targeted at issues pertaining to women and children, spearheaded by women.
The Minister then outlined the various international interventions, conventions and protocols that the Ministry had adopted (see attached presentation for details).
The Minister shared the theme of the campaign for 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children, which was “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence”. She called for a challenge against militarism and realisation of an end to violence against women.
There were five sub-themes to the campaign. These were to bring women together, the championing of peace and human rights movements to challenge militarism, activism against the proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence, a study of sexual violence in and after conflict, and the political violence against women, including pre-and post-election violence and violence during elections, and finally, sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents, particularly police and security or armed forces, against women.
She noted that although South Africa as a country was characterised by peace, many women in the country did not know peace in their own homes. Where guns were held in the home, they were most often used to injure or harm women and children.
The Minister noted a decline in the statistics on crime as reported by the Minister of Police, which was commendable, but added that there were still concerns about the rise of rape statistics in the country.
The Minister noted the various challenges that affected people with disabilities. As a result, the Minister spoke about the 365 Day National Action Plan that would see the launch of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence, to be funded by her Department. She called for the Caucus to drive that National Action Plan. She also suggested the implementation of a Self-Defence programme for the purposes of empowering women.
Hazel Bowen; President South African Association of Women Graduates