Gender Justice Barometer Issue 20

Gender Justice Barometer Issue 20

Date: January 1, 1970
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Southern Africa
Gender Justice Barometer

Issue 20: January 2008


The Gender Justice Barometer is a joint project of Gender Links and the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network



> Regional: Post 16 Days of no violence against women
> Regional: Prevention of gender violence key to ending scourge
> Global: CSW 52nd session: Financing gender equality and empowerment of women

2. SADC Gender and Development Protocol: Countdown to August!

> Regional: Advocacy group holds strategy meeting
> Regional: Regional consultations initiated on SADC Gender Protocol


> South Africa: Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act
> Zimbabwe: Support structures essential to domestic violence legislation

> Mauritius: 2008 declared year of no violence against women and children

> Kenya: Violence against women on the increase with continued political strife
> Tanzania: Women and polygamy: a controversial issue

Regional: Justice for survivors of marital rape, how far has SADC come?
> Local government vanguard in ending gender violence  

We encourage your feedback, comments and information you would like us to include. Send an email to Loveness Jambaya-Nyakujarah on










Regional: What impact has the Sixteen Days campaign made on ending GBV

Now that the 16 Days is over one of the challenges is to sustain the momentum.  16 Days of Activism is the period between 25 November and 10 December that focuses on raising awareness on gender violence.

About eight Southern African countries have developed 365 Day multi-sector action plans to end gender violence as a way of sustaining the momentum. Governments, civil society organisations, private sector, UN agencies need to invest money into making sure the action plans are implemented and have a lasting impact in reducing levels of gender violence.

As gender activists we need to ponder on what Sixteen Days has achieved and where the gaps are. A critical question is what are the next steps? Is the next 349 Days going to be business as usual and will the 2008 Sixteen Days be the same. Or maybe there needs to be some shift in approach in order to consolidate the gains in dealing with gender violence made thus far.

A great deal of work goes into ensuring that the campaign is a success but monitoring and evaluation of overall impact of the campaign is still scanty.

The Sixteen Days campaign has raised public awareness on gender violence and its ramifications. Media has continued to support the campaign as by covering events and publishing articles on gender violence during the campaign. But do we know whether this has resulted in actual behavioural change or not?

There is very little information available on how the campaign has impacted on preventing or responding to gender violence. Many advocates argue that we need to now move beyond campaign mode to a programmatic approach in which the Sixteen Days is used to highten awareness. 

Meanwhile advocacy groups involved in the 16 Days campaign need to come up with practical strategies to effectively measure its impact. Read 2007 GL 16 Days report

South Africa: Prevention of gender violence key to ending the scourge

UNICEF and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in partnership with Gender Links have embarked on a research to map promising violence prevention models in South Africa that can be scaled up. The project seeks to find ways of investing more resources in prevention of gender violence and in particular in strategies that have proven to bear fruit.

Violence against women and children continues to escalate despite efforts being made by government and civil society organisations.  The role of gender violence in fuelling HIV can not be denied either. However most of the energies seem to be geared to response and support mechanisms (crisis services)  after the abuse has already occured. Yet a more long term solution to end this scourge is to invest more resources into prevention efforts.

Prevention strategies as a way of responding to gender based violence imply taking a proactive stance to stop violence rather than a reactive approach of focussing on victims or survivors who have already suffered abused.

The research on violence prevention models will focus look at the interrelationships between human beings and their environments beginning with the
> Individual
> Relationship with peers, intimate partners and family members
> Community which focuses on the settings such as schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods,
> Societal which looks at the broad societal factors which include social and cultural norms.

Gender violence and consequently HIV and AIDS can not be stopped without fundamental transformation of mindsets of men to a large extent but also women who society have shaped to believe that "it is okay to be abused". The task of changing behaviour and those cultural norms that fuel violence may seem insurmountable but there are promising models that are in place, if scaled up in each country, will go a long way in addressing these challenges.

Global: CSW 52nd session: Financing gender equality and empowerment of women

The 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be held at the United Nations Headquaters in New York from 25 February to 7 March 2008. The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

An expert group meeting organised in Norway in 2007 to prepare for the CSW 52nd session pointed out that the gap between policy commitments at international and national level and action on the ground is now well recognised, tehre has been limted assessment of the extent to which gaps in resource allocatioons in support of these commitments have contributed to the implementation gap.

The meeting also pointed to the much recognised reality that promotion of gender equality is "smart economics" despite the fact that public sector expenditures have not systematically addressed gender equality concerns.

So as the UN experts, government representatives, and NGOs meet in New York action is what is called for if gender equality is going to be a reality.

Regional: Advocacy group holds strategy meeting
The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance (the Alliance) is holding a strategy meeting to develop a roadmap towards the SADC Summit to be held in August 2008 from 29-31 January.  This follows decisions made and positions taken as regards the draft SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (the Protocol) at a  strategy meeting of Senior Government Officials responsible for Gender held in Livingstone Zambia in December 2007.  
Having ascertained what the way forward is by the Senior Officials responsible for Gender, and taking cognisance of hte new working draft Protocol, the Alliance members are to meet to map out their way forward. 

Objectives of the meeting include:
> Share feedback from each country on national developments regarding the Protocol.
> Share feedback on regional developments regarding the Protocol.
> Analyse the new draft Protocol adn agree on a position and way forward.
> Write opinions and commentaries on the Protocol for use in various media and in a supplement at the Heads of State summit on poverty in Mauritius in April 2008

Among the key contentious issues to be explored are:
> The contradiction between customary law and statutory law.
> The need to have explicit reference to marital rape.
> Use of non obligatory language from ensure to endevour in member states’ commitment to achieving the 50% target in decision making bodies.
> There is lack of comprehensive monitoring and evaluation mechanism framework which will make it difficult to track progress.
> Rights of socially excluded and vulnerable groups not addressed.

For a more comprehensive analysis Click here

Regional: Justice for survivors of marital rape, how far has SADC come?
By Pamela Mhlanga

The question of whether marital rape is recognised or not by Southern African Development Community (SADC) governments, as a matter of policy, should be put to rest. International organisations and agreements recognise marital rape as a human rights violation and six SADC countries have domesticated this position in their criminal justice systems.

SADC is making progress, albeit fraught with uncertainties, towards a legally binding Gender and Development Protocol scheduled for adoption in 2008. Yet, it is surprising that the current draft of the Gender and Development Protocol excludes marital rape from the ambit of gender based violence, making it diametrically opposed to the 1998 commitment by SADC governments, and indeed, the progress already made in six countries in the region. Are we taking a step back or moving forward? Read full article


South Africa: Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act

Following the enactment of the Sexual Offences Bill during Sixteen Days of Activim in 2007 the challenge is implementation of its provisions.

There are administrative issues that need to be dealt with to ensure effective and efficient application of the piece of legislation. For example, police will need to be trained around provisions especially in taking statements. Equally all those serving in the justice system need to be able to interpret it. More importantly the citizens need to be aware Act exists and that it is there to protect them.

The new Act also recognises a new range of crimes especially relating to children and people with mental disability. Some of the provisions remain controversial.

One of the most contentious issues is that the Act makes it illegal for teenagers to kiss, touch or rub up against each other in public. Teenagers could be criminally charged if found guilty of infringing the law. Also illegal under the new act is any sexual activity, including oral sex, between consenting teens aged 15 and younger.

This has sparked an uproar from teenagers and advocacy groups. For example Samantha Waterhouse from RAPCAN is quoted in Cape Argus newspaper saying
""I can understand where the government is coming from in terms of morality, but criminalising kissing, and even touching, is illogical. What we should have are programmes aimed at sexual education, like what is and what is not appropriate,"

So this begs the question – has government put in place all the mechanisms in place to ensure that the becomes a living document that can be applied. For example has it been costed and has treasury set aside a budget for it? What is the roll out plan for instance in terms of public education and awareness for citizens? If indeed these mechanisms are in place.

Zimbabwe: Support structures essential to domestic violence legislation
By Fungai Machirori

Zimbabwe is one of the few southern African nations who have specific legislation to address domestic violence. Last year ended with the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, the theme for the year focused on demanding implementation of policies. There is scarcely a more appropriate nation to which this imperative applies. In 2008, it is high time to make implementation a reality.

A handful of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have specific Domestic Violence Acts in place. These include Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, and Seychelles. Legislation is vital, but the support structures that make implementation possible, and mean real change for women, are vital. While the Domestic Violence Act was assented into law in Zimbabwe almost a year ago,  ago, it only became operational on  October 25, 2007. For many women, this delay echoes the pattern of apathy about the Act, which began its journey into law through the advocacy calls of women’s groups as far back as a decade ago. Read full article


Mauritius: 2008 declared year of no violence against women and children

The Ministry of Women’s Rights has declared 2008 as a year of no violence against women and children. Multi-sector and multi-pronged strategies have been put in place to ensure that this goal is achieved:
There is a National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence was launched during 16 Days of Activism in 2007 and printed for nationwide circulation. The vision of the action plan is to free all women and children from fear or threat of domestic violence. According to the Action Plan "It is a long term vision that will require may partneres and it will take time – perhaps a generation – to do it right".

Further, according to a report in L’Express (15/01/2008), the Prime Minister’s office has launched a ‘Women And Children’s Solidarity Programme’ to support NGOs in their fight against abuse and violence against women and children. With the various partnerships between the government, the private sector and NGOs, the government has called upon some NGOs to extend their reach out to more vulnerable and needy people.

The report also states that in the Budget 2007/2008 speech, the government has made provision for Rs 25 million to help victims of abuse and violence. This programme is project-based and will involve at least two or three social partners registered with the Registrar of Associations. The NGOs are called to work primarily upon areas such as diminishing abuse and violence against women and children, provide support to such victims and to neglected children, educate and provide assistance to children with disabilities and serious illness. The programme will mainly benefit the victims and survivors but there are possibilities for training to empower volunteer field workers who will be entreated to work upon the grassroots social problems.

Loga Virahsawmy applauded government’s programme to remove children living on the street and finding ways of helping these.  She however laments the escalating levels of violence especially prevalent amongst drug addicts.

With government investing all these resources into ending violence against women, it needs all role players to rally behind and ensure the vision is upheld.


Kenya: UNICEF reports sexual violence increasing

By Lisa Schlein

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), reports sexual violence against women and children in Kenya is increasing.  UNICEF is urgently appealing for $3 million to provide emergency protection for children and women who have been displaced by post-election violence in the country and for those who remain in their home communities, but are at risk of violence and exploitation. 

The UNICEF says there is less ethnic violence now than during the post-election rioting last month.  But, Kenya remains dangerous and children and women are at particular risk for violence and abuse.

UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection in Kenya, Birgithe Lund-Henriksen, says children are being raped.  In a telephone interview from Nairobi, she tells VOA there are no accurate figures on the number of rapes or other cases of sexual abuse, because children and women are afraid to talk about the attacks. Read full article

Tanzania: Women and polygamy: a controversial issue
By Issa Toure

Polygamy is a controversial issue. In some countries polygamy is authorised by the State and in other countries polygamy is illegal.

The term "polygamy" refers to the practice of one man having more than one wife at the same time.  This is how the term is used by several writers. Tehre are other definitions of polygamy which are more elaborated and complex.

Polygamy is not admitted by Christianity but it is authorised by Islam. However the Holy Koran, sacred book of the Islamic religion, limits the nubmer of wives to four. the Koran also stipulates that the husband must treat his wives fairly.

People who support the practice of polygamy develop several arguments as justification. On the other polygamy often results in families with more children than they can support. Polygamy related abuses on women violate their fundamental right including security, freedom from degrading treatment, freedom from discrimination adn free consent to marriage.  Some of the women and girls who run away from polygamous households report that there were taught to suvmit to the authority of thier husbands in any circumstances and there frequently subjected to injustice , humiliation violence, coercision and abuse. Read more


Local government vanguard in ending gender violence  
By Susan Tolmay

At no other level are the stark realities of violence against women and children more evident than at local government. At a recent workshop organised by the Gender Advocacy Programme (GAP), a group of participants from rural communities, local councils and community media discussed a range of issues including women in the media, local government and citizen participation. 

When the discussion moved talking about violence against women and children and drug abuse in their communities, the women became animated, passionate, angry and frustrated, raising many questions.  Why is nothing being done?  Why are the police not responding as they should?  Why do the media perpetuate gender stereotypes by using derogatory language and explicit images? 
However, my question is, what are communities doing, and what are local councils doing to address the violence that affects the lives of so many women in local communities. What can local government, the level closest to the people on the ground, do about this issue?  
Read full article

No joy for pregnant women during economic crisisBy Miriam Madziwa

Ordinarily, falling pregnant should be a joyous experience for every woman. And with just 8 years to go before the 2015 target year for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, one would expect to hear accounts of how motherhood is increasingly becoming a memorable, safer experience for women as countries strive to fulfill the fifth development goal of “improving maternal health.”

Sadly, this is not the case for the majority of Zimbabwean women. Instead, with each passing day, motherhood has become a nightmare best avoided. Read full article


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