Gender Justice Barometer Issue 22

Gender Justice Barometer Issue 22

Date: January 1, 1970
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Southern Africa
Gender Justice Barometer

Issue 22: March – April 2008
 The Gender Justice Barometer is a joint project of Gender Links a
nd the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network.


* South Africa: School violence on the rise
* Zimbabwe: Call for international action as violence worsens
* The CGE hosts gender violence conference
* Global: World women speak out at CSW
* Africa: Women key to Millenium development Goals


*Regional: Protocol Alliance releases position paper on the draft SADC Gender Protocol

*Regional: National consultations making inroads on draft SADC Gender and Development Protocol

*Zambia: Female MPs back calls to make defilement non-bailable offence
* Democratic Republic of Cong Majority of rapists go unpunished

* Swaziland: Every third woman sexually abused as a child, says report



* Campaign condemning violence on women by taxi drivers

*SOuth Africa: Mapping violence prevention models


* Lesotho on the road to developing a National Action Plan to End Gender Violence

*Mauritius: Laws changed to protect foreigners with HIV 
* Regional: Protecting couples who don’t tie the knot 


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








South Africa: School violence on the rise
Games such as "hit me, hit me" and "rape me, rape me" where school children chase each other and then pretend to hit or rape each other were being played at South African schools. This has caused distress for many parents and the nation at large. "This game demonstrates the extent and level brutalisation of the youth has reached and how endemic sexual violence has become in South Africa," the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in a report on school violence released recently.

What kind of nation will we have in the future for a country already notorius for high levels of violence and the highest rape statistics in the world? Many response mechanisms have been suggested as a way of dealing with school violence such as increasing security and so forth but much more needs to be done to influence behaviour change.

NPA SOCA Unit and UNICEF in partnership with Gender Links are currently conducting a research to map violence prevention models in South Africa that can be scaled up.  Research shows that while schools are a site for violent crime not many programmes have been effectively implemented to deal with the problem.  Instead they have proven to be more of research sites than anything else.

Read related article
Read related article

Zimbabwe: Call for international action as violence worsens
Zimbabweans commemorated independence day on 18th April as a deeply divided and uncertain nation, shaken by a rising tide of political violence in the aftermath of last month’s election in which the opposition for the first time won a parliamentary majority.

Human rights organisations say hundreds of people have fled rural areas where the army, police and war veterans have spearheaded terror campaigns against civilians for daring to vote against ZANU-PF, the party of President Robert Mugabe, in the 29 March poll.

A 70-year-old grandmother from Murehwa district in Mashonaland East said she had run after ZANU-PF supporters and traditional leaders threatened her. “My grandchildren are MDC supporters. In the run up to the elections, they were campaigning for the opposition and would wear party regalia. I am now being accused of encouraging my grandchildren to campaign for the MDC.” Read full article

Source: IRIN News
Read related article on declining women representation in parliament 

South Africa: The CGE hosts gender violence conference
The Commission on Gender Equality hosted a gender violence conference to assess progress and challenges to end gender violence. It closed with a declaration which paid homage to victims of gender-based violence, recognised some good practices by activists, police officers, NGOs, court officials among others and underscored challenges faced in transforming critical systems that impede the eradication of these acts of violence.

Further, in taking its rightful statutory role, the CGE undertook to spare no effort in ensuring passing of appropriate legislation and policies to transform the landscape of gender rights in general, and gender-based violence in particular, and to work more closely with civil society the agents of change. While calling on widespread changes, the CGE also called on citizens of South Africa to hold the CGE accountable to its mandate.

Participants in the conference deliberations included representatives from government, civil and education sectors. Some of the important issues raised during deliberations included contextualising victims within factors such as poverty, patriarchy, lack of healthcare, HIV/AIDS, fundamentalisms, religious and cultural interpretations:

* The abuse of culture and religion in shaping of attitudes prevailing in gender-based violence
* Lack of political drive behind the fight against gender-based violence
* Men’s socio-psychological grounding/environment as abusers and contributing factors to their vulnerability, as well as their role as partners in combating gender-based violence
* Research, monitoring and evaluation processes and challenges faced by the gender sector
* While noting the valuable ones, the conference identified flaws in legislation and policies that create blockages in the administration of justice pertaining to gender-based violence offences, as well as programmes, services and support for victims of such offences.

Global: World women speak out at CSW
Women still comprise the majority of the world’s absolute poor and those without access to education. Additionally disparities in equal pay for equal work, unpaid work, continued high maternal mortality, prominent HIV infection rates and a pandemic of violence against women are clear indicators that our commitments to these gender specific issues must be redoubled. The special needs of all women, young girls to older women, must be recognized in a context of clear-cut human rights.
Women must have the tools and the training and the will necessary to achieve financial equality. Political will must translate into financial commitment" says the delegates and Expert Group Report at CSW 52. Read full article

Africa: Women key to Millenium Development Goals

Efforts to meet international development goals must focus on empowering women, Deputy UN Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said in a speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“Empowering women is not just an end in itself; it is a prerequisite for reaching all of the Millennium Development Goals ­ our common vision to build a better world in the 21st century,” she said of the targets, known as MDGs, that aim to slash a host of global ills by 2015.

At the moment, the news is quite sobering, she said: systematic discrimination against girls and women in the world’s poorest countries will make it impossible for these states to meet the priority goal to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by that year. Read full article.
Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa

Regional: Protocol Alliance releases position paper on the draft SADC Gender Protocol
The Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance has released a position paper on the crucial SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to be placed before heads of state when they meet in South Africa in August. The Protocol is the first and most comprehensive sub-regional effort to bring together all existing commitments to gender equality and setting specific targets and indicators for their attainment. It is vital that we lobby all concerned to come up with the strongest possible provisions when the Protocol is adopted. This is the final mile!

Please add your comments by going to  our bulletin board. These comments will be fed into national consultation processes; the gender ministers meeting taking place in Windhoek in late April; the Heads of State summit on Poverty in Mauritius in April, and all other forums leading up to the HOS in August. Make your voice heard! Be part of the change we all seek!   

Instruction on how to register on the Gender Links bulletin board

1. Go to the Gender Links website:
2. Click on Register at the top right side of the Gender Links logo.
3. Click on I Agree to these terms and am over or exactly 13 years of age.
4. Fill in your username, password and email address.
5. Type in the confirmation code.
6. Leave the Profile information and preferences as is and then click on submit. 

Regional: SADC Gender ministers meeting in June to review draft Gender Protocol

Gender Ministers from the region are scheduled to meet in Namibia from 28 – 30 June to review the draft Gender and Development Protocol. The meeting will provide a litmus test for whether the region will take their commitment to gender equality a step further.

The comes on the back drop of national  consultations by National Gender Machineries, NGOs and relevant stakeholders aimed at lobbying for the adoption of the draft SADC Gender and Development Protocol by Heads of State in August this year.

Countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa have held consultation meetings between government and civil society.  In other countries meetings have been scheduled for future dates.

The draft Protocol was discussed at the April SADC Summit on Poverty held in Mauritius. There is a lot of ground work and enthusiasm in the region to push ahead and ensure that the draft Protocol is adopted at the August gathering.
View Alliance press release on post election violence in Zimbabwe
View latest draft of the draft SADC Gender and Development Protocol

Zambia: |Women MPs back calls to make defilement non-bailable offence

Women Members of Parliament (MP’s) have backed calls to make defilement a non-bailable offence as one way to deter perpetrators from committing such a crime.

Zambia Women Parliamentary Caucus chairperson, Regina Musokotwane welcomed the calls from some sections of society who wanted defilement and rape cases to be a non-bailable offence.

"Personally, I will support the call to make the offence of child abuse non-bailable and as women MPs, we are calling for stiffer punishment on perpetrators," she said.

Mrs Musokotwane said imprisonment for 20 years or more for abusers was not enough considering that after serving their sentences, there was no guarantee that such people would not commit the same offences. Read full article


Democratic Republic of Congo "Majority of rapists go unpunished"

Sexual violence against women is rampant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but the majority of perpetrators, especially in "no-law" zones, go unpunished, according to a UN independent human rights expert.

In South Kivu Province, for example, 14,200 rape cases were registered between 2005 and 2007 but only 287 were taken to court, Titinga Frederic Pacere, the UN Human Rights Council’s independent expert on the state of human rights in the DRC, told reporters on 14 March.

He expressed concern over the human rights situation in the DRC, saying insecurity was almost everywhere, especially in the east, and state authority had not reached all areas.

According to analysts, sexual violence against women and girls is a facet of warfare that is often used as a weapon of terror to inflict physical and psychological damage. But in DRC, it is "systematic" and could be prosecuted as a crime against humanity or as a form of genocide. Read full article.

Source: IRIN News


Swaziland: Every third woman sexually abused as a child, says report
One in three Swazi women has suffered some form of sexual abuse as a child; one in four experienced physical violence, a new United Nations survey revealed.

The study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the first of its kind conducted in a country where anecdotal evidence suggests an alarming number of female children are victims of abuse. More disconcertingly still, the mushrooming population of orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland provide yet more opportunities for sexual exploitation to occur.

In two years, 200,000 Swazi children will have been orphaned by AIDS – more than one-fifth of the current population, according to UNICEF. With HIV prevalence at 33.4 percent among people aged between 15 and 49, the country has the world’s highest infection rate. As a result, life expectancy has halved from nearly 60 years in the 1990s to just over 30 years today. Read full article
Source: IRIN News


Campaign condeming violence on women by taxi drivers
The Sonke Gender Justice Network and the One Man Can Campaign strongly condemn the sexist violence perpetrated against yet another woman by taxi drivers operating out of the Noord Street Taxi Rank.

Just weeks after a woman was assaulted at the Noord Street rank for exercising her right to wear clothing of her own choice-a mini-skirt in this instance-a group of taxi drivers at the Noord Street rank have violently assaulted a woman passenger. In this instance, a woman passenger paid with a R100 note for a R3.50 fare and then complained when she was given her change entirely in small coins. For this act of “insubordination” she was dragged out of the taxi and slapped as the taxi drivers yelled “women talk too much these days”.

These two incidents of violence represent an alarming pattern of violence perpetrated by men who appear to feel threatened by gender transformation and are using violence to protect the privileges many men have long regarded as their birthright. Tragically, these men seem to equate being a man with dominance over women, aggression and a willingness to use violence to demonstrate their power and control over women. Read ful article
Source: Womensnet


Lesotho on the road to developing a National Action Plan to End Gender Violence

Lesotho government, civil society organisations and other stakeholders will join hands in developing a year long National Action Plan to End Gender Violence. A workshop will be held in collaboration with Gender Links from 5 – 7 May 2008 in Maseru.

The kingdom will join eight other Southern African countries who have developed similar plans.  The plans are framed against the SADC Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children as well as the Draft SADC Gender and Development Protocol with concrete targets and timeframes for achieving the set out actions.

Governments in Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania have finalised and launched the plans. Implementation is in progress.  In some instances consultations are being finalised before adoption while in others the implementation processes need to be strengthened.
Increasingly it is becoming clear to all that greater focus needs to placed on primary prevention interventions if gender violence is going to be achieved decisively.

The draft SADC Gender and Development Protocol sets a target of halving current levels of gender violence by 2015. However do we know the current levels of gender violence?

Developing strong monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for measuring progress in ending gender violence should be key in these national action plans.
Click here to view 365 days Action Plans developed by countries


Mauritius: Laws changed to protect foreigners with HIV 
By Loga Virahsawmy

Mauritius showed its commitment to ending discrimination against women and men living with HIV when on 25 March the government amended three laws that discriminated against foreigners living with HIV, and Mauritians who wanted to marry them. The amendments to the Civil Status Act, the Immigration Act and the HIV and AIDS Act mean that it is now possible for a wedding between a Mauritian and an HIV positive foreigner to happen.
This must be a relief for the Mauritian and the Mozambican couple, whose names have been kept secret during an ongoing public battle, who wanted to get married in August last year. They can now get married and live in Mauritius with their child. The law will henceforth protect this family who has been living in fear for the past eight months.   Read full article
Source: GL Opinion and Commentary Service

Regional: Protecting couples who don’t tie the knot 
By Nyasha Madzingira

Call it by any name – kuchaya mapoto (SHona), kuishi pamoja bila ndoa (Kiswahili) , masihlalisane (Zulu), manyengwe (Lozi) – living together, or cohabitation, is a reality in Southern Africa. Yet despite the many reasons for couples opting out of tying the official knot, many people in these relationships find that legal rights protecting them are far less than for their married counterparts.

Many couples are well aware of this lack of protection. “In the event of the death of one of us, you might find that the deceased’s relatives are very selfish,” says Moses Kasale.* “For example, if I die and my relatives are selfish, they can come and take everything in this house and by so doing denying the children I have with her any inheritance. All on the basis of the fact that I had not married her.”  Read full article  
Source: Opinion and Commentary Service

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