Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister John Jeffery says the battle to eradicate Gender Based Violence and Femicide is one that government can lead but not fight alone.
He was speaking during a commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign in KwaMashu, KwaZulu Natal, on Monday.
“We cannot rely on legislation only in trying to combat and prevent GBV – communities, civil society and religious institutions all have a role to play. We cannot combat GBV without the help of our communities, our teachers, our religious leaders, and our community activists. Every one of us has a part to play in combating GBV,” the deputy minister said.
Jeffery highlighted that where government can intervene is through legislation and through the courts.
He highlighted some of the steps that government has taken to fight the scourge.
“There are three new pieces of legislation which strengthen our response to GBV and the protection of survivors of GBV in significant ways. We have Sexual Offences Courts which offer a number of victim-support services such as, amongst others, court preparation services and intermediaries who convey questions and statements received from the court to the victim in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.
“We make use of in-camera testifying services for children, persons with mental disabilities, and all traumatised victims, irrespective of age,” he said.
Jeffery urged society to join the fight against Gender Based Violence and Femicide by:
- Being an activist against GBV in our homes, communities, work and positions.
- Challenging cultures and practices that perpetuate gender inequalities and lead to the abuse of women and children at personal and societal level.
- Rejecting and reporting abusers – act and don’t look away.
- Not protecting abusers, report them.
- Challenging and denouncing cultural practices that perpetuate gender inequalities.
- Being sensitive and supportive to GBV victims – share helpful information and support causes near you.
- Seeking personal help to change harmful behaviour such as alcohol and substance abuse
- Teaching children values of respect and gender equality.
- Protecting children from exposure to violence and harmful content on internet and social media, including pornography and sexual solicitation.
- Developing policies that prevent and deal with gender based violence in your sector, workplace and communities.
- Organising targeted community outreach and dialogues on solutions towards a gender equal society.
COVID-19 and GBVF
Deputy Minister Jeffery said the COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on the safety of women and children in their homes.
“The impact of COVID on all aspects of our lives has been immense. Every single person in this country has been affected…either having it themselves, losing a loved one, suffering the effects of long Covid, losing a job or their income, having to close their business or just struggling, in some way or another, to get through their daily lives.
“As we are facing a 4th wave, it is tough for all of us. And as people struggle to cope, many will turn to alcohol or substance abuse, which then leads to more domestic violence and GBV. That’s why we have tried to ensure that courts remain open and that domestic violence protection orders are heard and processed during all levels of the lockdown,” he said.
Victim and survivors of gender-based violence can call the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre toll-free on 0800 428 428 for assistance.
They can also contact the Command Centre by sending a “please call me” to *120*7867# with a request that a social worker contact them. They can also sms the word “help” to 31531. – SAnews.gov.za