Gender Justice Barometer Issue 1

Gender Justice Barometer Issue 1

Date: January 1, 1970
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Southern Africa
Gender Justice Barometer
Issue 1: March 2006
The Gender Justice Barometer is a joint project of Gender Links and the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network
In this issue:
* Zimbabwe: calls to pass Domestic Violence Bill intensify
* Zambia: victory for women’s inheritance rights
* Botswana: policing gender violence
* South Africa: One in Nine Campaign launched to support survivors of violence
* South Africa: from 16 to 365 days of action on gender violence
* Malawi: President says government will not tolerate violence against women
* South Africa: from 16 to 365 days of action against gender violence
We encourage your feedback, comments and information you would like us to include. Send an email to:
Welcome to the first issue of the Gender Justice Barometer, a regional e-newsletter that monitors the developments in addressing gender violence in Southern African countries. It is produced by Gender Links in partnership with the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network with support from the Norwegian Council for Africa.
The Barometer will track progress in the introduction of laws, services and public awareness campaigns based on the gaps identified in an audit undertaken by the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA). The audit found that despite the important strides Southern African countries have made in ending discrimination against women, the levels of gender violence remain exceptionally high.
Key findings of the audit include amongst others:
  • Specific legislation to address gender violence is patchy with only four countries in the region having passed Domestic Violence Acts. These include Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa. Three countries – Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe – have domestic violence laws pending and it is critical that gender and women’s rights activists monitor the development, adoption and implementation of the legislation carefully. In addition, only four countries – Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, have passed Sexual Offences Acts.
  • Only four countries in the region have policies requiring that health facilities administer post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) the course of anti-retroviral drugs that can help reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after a sexual assault. This highlights the concern that the link between HIV and AIDS and gender violence is not being adequately addressed in the region.
  • Cultural and social factors work against the effectiveness of specialised services that have been established to assist survivors of violence.
  • Fragmentation and a lack of specific resources for addressing gender violence weaken effective responses to gender violence.
The high levels of gender violence in the region are a direct threat to the hard fought for gains that have been made in terms of women’s rights in the region. In addition, gender violence is increasingly being recognised as a developmental constraint that, according to the Millennium Taskforce on Education and Gender Equality “retards economic growth and poverty reduction”.
According to a report released by the taskforce, the “United Nations now recognises violence against women as a basic human rights abuse; atrocities such as rape committed during armed conflict are acknowledged as a ‘weapon of war’ and a gender-based crime; and social violence in the home is correlated with economic crime outside the home, as well as with political and institutional violence at local and national levels.
Given this, it is essential that gender and women’s rights activists and governments track the impact of their work in order to measure whether or not they are making a difference. The Gender Justice Barometer is a tool that can be used firstly, to track progress in gender justice work in the region and also to hold governments in Southern Africa accountable to the commitments they have made to address gender violence through their obligations to international and regional instruments.
One such regional instrument is the Southern African Development Community Addendum on the Eradication of All forms of Violence Against Women and Children. The Addendum commits Southern African governments to taking measures to end gender violence. These measures include:  
  • Legal,
  • Social, economic, cultural and political,
  • Services,
  • Education, training and awareness building,
  • Integrated approaches and,
  • Budgetary allocations.
Taking its lead from the Addendum, the Gender Justice Barometer is structured around these six measures to end gender violence. Gender Links and GEMSA invite you to join us in this important project by send us information and news that would be of interest to those working in the gender violence sector. We hope that this resource will assist in sharing the best practices, success and challenges of eradicating gender violence in the region.  
Send information and comments to Jan Moolman: T: + 27 11 6222877 or email

Zimbabwe: calls to pass Domestic Violence Bill intensify
The long awaited Zimbabwean Domestic Violence Act has come under scrutiny as women’s groups in the country have intensified a campaign to enact the now seven-year old Bill. The definition of domestic violence in the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence Draft Bill of 2003 includes abuse derived from cultural or customary rite and practices that discriminate or degrade women. Key provisions of the Bill include easier access to courts, providing wider remedies, and putting in place stronger legal enforcement mechanisms.
In an article published by Irin News, Hazviperi Makoni, spokeswoman for the Women’s Coalition for Zimbabwe, an umbrella body of women’s rights groups said: "Women and girls in particular are suffering deplorable acts of violence at the hands of men: some have been murdered, while others have been raped. It is in view of such occurrences that we call for a law that will protect women". The Gender and Media Southern Africa GEMSA) Network Zimbabwean chapter is the lead agency in the process of developing a media strategy to help raise awareness around the Bill. For more information contact Loveness Jambaya:
Zambia: victory for women’s inheritance rights
The December 2005 ruling in a Zambian local court that gave a woman married under customary law the right to a share of marital property in a divorce settlement is an important precedent for the country. A major obstacle in the realisation of women’s rights in Zambia is the dual legal system of law which effectively reduces women’s status to that of a minor.
Speaking to IRIN News, Matrine Chuulu, coordinator of the NGO, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) said: “This is an interesting and progressive judgment: interesting because this ruling came from a local court, the custodian of tradition and lore, and it bases its judgment on tribal customs; progressive because for a long time women have suffered destitution when there is a divorce. It is difficult for women to get their share of matrimonial property even when they are married under the statutes, but for customary unions it is worse because custom does not give a woman any right to demand anything – in some customs even the children are taken away."

Botswana: policing gender violence
Speaking at an event to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th 2006, police Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa, of Kutlwano outlined some of the difficulties police experience when dealing with gender violence. These include an insufficient number of shelters for women who need to leave abusive relationships as well as women withdrawing charges of abuse against their partners. In an article published in Mmegi Newspaper he pointed out that that many women also do not report incidents of violence to police at all.
Botswana does not have a Sexual Offences Act and its draft Domestic Violence Bill has been in the pipeline for several years. The 2004 audit of measures taken by Southern African countries to end gender violence against women found that while specialised units for addressing gender violence exist in police stations and that the number of reported cases is growing, the number of convictions is declining. Less than one quarter of cases concerning violence against women end up in convictions, the audit found.

South Africa: One in Nine Campaign launched to support survivors of violence
Launched just prior to the trial of former South African Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, defending allegations of rape, the One in Nine Campaign has claimed victories in the first week of the trial. Compared with her first court appearance, the complainant has not been made to enter the court through the public entrance where the media and Zuma supporters gather. The number of organisations and individuals coming forward to pledge their support for the Campaign and the complainant has grown substantially in the first week since launching the Campaign.
Despite these victories, The One in Nine Campaign partners are concerned by what appears to be a systematic attempt to discredit and intimidate the complainant in the Zuma rape case – both inside and outside the court. Read the full press release.
The One in Nine Campaign was launched to ensure that the action taken by Kwezi (not her real name), the woman who has filed a rape charge against Jacob Zuma is affirmed and supported through direct action, the mass media, and through strengthening the level of debate and analysis in society of the gender dimensions of the case. The campaign has established a website which includes weekly updates and analysis of the trial.
OPINION: Zuma trial reflects South Africa’s response to rape
By Carrie Shelver
Despite South Africa’s progressive Constitution women’s occupation of public and private spaces remains limited and constantly under siege. As we stood outside the court on the first day of the rape trial it was clear how even those of us gathered to support the complainant in the case were under siege, our space limited to a small cordoned off area. By contrast, the supporters of Zuma roamed and merged with bystanders all of whom were only occasionally pushed back by police.

Malawi: President says government will not tolerate violence against women
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has condemned violence against women in Malawi and warned of stiff punishment for abusers. Mutharika was responding to a number of media reports on gender violence in the country, including the shock findings of a recent survey covering over a thousand school-age girls that found that more than half had experienced some form of sexual abuse in schools in Malawi. Irin News reports that the survey found that 50 percent of the girls said their private parts had been touched "without permission, by either their teachers or fellow schoolboys". The article states that: “Only 2 percent of respondents reported the abuse to the police, while 52.3 percent did not report the matter to any authority figure, such as a school principle or guardian. The authors said "a considerable proportion of girls in the study failed to report incidents of violence" because they were embarrassed”.

South Africa: from 16 to 365 days of action against gender violence
The 16 Days of Activism campaign has brought about high levels of awareness, as well as commitment by government, the private sector and civil society to ending gender violence. Despite this levels of gender violence in South Africa remain among the highest in the world. While ending gender violence is not an overnight miracle, best practice from around the world suggests that what is required is a concerted, multi-sector, multi-stakeholder action plan with concrete targets and measurable outputs. 
Responding to this, Gender Links in partnership with the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) will convene a two-day conference titled “365 Days of Action to End Gender Violence” at which government and civil society organisations will develop a National Action Plan to end Gender Violence in the country. The dates of the conference have been tentatively scheduled for 2-4 May 2006.
For more information contact Janine Moolman: or T: 011 – 622 2877

Sexual minorities face uphill battle claiming their rights 
By Melanie Judge
Too often when we talk about gender-based violence there is a deafening silence about attacks on lesbian, gay and transgender people. This is because of what their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may represent. Argued under the pretext of culture, religion or morality, the ill-treatment of lesbian and gay people is tacitly accepted in South African society
South Africa exports a culture of sexual abuse
By Karen Williams
It is with little irony that a South African peacekeeper is on trial accused of allegedly abusing (and killing) a Burundian minor, the same week that the man who was the architect of Burundi’s peace is on trial for rape in the Johannesburg High Court. If there are analogies to be drawn, it must be between the link between South African maleness and allegations of female abuse.

New book: Broken bodies — broken dreams: violence against women exposed
The book offers a powerful testimony of the different types of gender-based violence experienced by women and girls worldwide throughout their lives, through the use of photographs, individual case studies and illustrative text. The publication is part of OCHA/IRIN’s ongoing campaign to highlight the issues of violence against women through film, text and photography.
A photo exhibition has been developed to launch the book and has been displayed in three international locations: New York, Geneva and Nairobi. For more information and to order a copy email: or click here
Conference: International Policy Conference on the African Child: Violence Against Girls in Africa
The African Child Policy Forum will hold its 2006 International Policy Conference on the African Child: Violence Against Girls in Africa on May 11 and 12 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Speakers from the African Union, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and members from Pan-African policy makers will join women’s-rights and child-rights organisations, as well as child survivors of violence, in this major two-day conference.
The objective of the conference is to contribute to the ongoing international effort to effect attitudinal and policy changes toward violence against girls, by providing a platform for like-minded organisations to work together and initiate an Africa-wide movement against all forms of violence.
For more information and the most recent schedule of presenters and

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