For immediate release: Sixteen Days- Government urged to put its money where its mouth is

Date: January 1, 1970
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Johannesburg 25 November: NGOs have urged the government to “put its money where its mouth isÀ in the fight against gender violence at the start of the 2008 Sixteen Days of Activism campaign.


In a stock taking exercise held at Constitution Hill ahead of 25 November – International Day of No Violence Against Women – government representatives listed several initiatives that are being taken to curb the scourge of violence against women and children that remain among the highest in the world.                                               

Minister in the Presidency responsible for gender Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced that at the just-ended African Development Forum in Addis Ababa South Africa was held up as a shinning example for its adoption of a multi sector 365 Day National Action Plan (NAP) to end gender violence. UNIFEM used the occasion to launch an Africa-wide 365 day campaign.

Almost two years since the adoption of the NAP in March 2007, government plans to set up a fully staffed 365 Day Secretariat from 1 January 2009. But this is funded by the Danish government, which is also supporting roll out of the Thutuzela Centres or “one stop shops” for victims of gender violence. There are currently ten such centres in six provinces, but they only service about 10 percent of the need.

The plan is to scale up the number of the centres, that has proved effective both in providing comprehensive treatment and care, as well as securing convictions in an area where general conviction rates are only about 7 percent.   

Seven more Thutuzela Centres are to be established next year; another 12 in 2010 and 26 more in 2011 with additional support from USAID, according to the head of the gender unit in the Ministry of Health, Esther Maluleke. She added that health officials are being trained in responding to cases of sexual offences and a manual for making the health system more responsive to this painful area of need will soon be launched.

Several NGOs attending the Taking Stock session convened by Gender Links (GL) questioned why so many of the responses to gender violence are either contingent on donor funding or not funded at all.

According to a spokesperson for Life Line, while the HIV help line is full funded by the Ministry of Health and receives 4000 calls a day, the gender violence help line gets no government funding; is not staffed after hours or at weekends and averages 300 calls a day.

Participants, who included representatives of Gender Links,  the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), the South African Police Service, Child Line, Life Line, Engender Health, the Media Monitoring Project and the Inter Departmental Committee in Government responsible for managing gender violence noted that while there have been some positive developments over the last year, gender violence has not abated significantly and it is taking several new forms.

According to the Director of Information Management Services of the South African Police Services Chris de Cock, figures from April to December 2007 showed a 7 percent decrease in the rate of reported cases of sexual assault; a pattern similar to previous years and a trend noted in other instances of “contact crime” like murder and assault. He said he hoped that this is indicative that South Africa is gradually moving towards a “normal” level of such crimes, from its current “abnormal status” in global terms.

But he cautioned that the next report which will cover the period since the Sexual Offences Act 2008 became effective in December 2007 is likely to reflect an increase in reported cases of sexual offences since the Act broadens the definition of rape to include male rape and all forms (not just penal) penetration. He added that, following pressure from civil society organizations, the next report will, for the first time, include statistics on domestic violence. Previously these figures have been hidden in such categories as “criminal injuria” and “assault with intent to do bodily harm.”

New forms of gender violence discussed at the forum include trafficking; the violence experienced at taxi ranks; gender violence linked to xenophobia and that which could erupt in the run up to the March 2009 elections that are already proving to be the most acrimonious since the advent of democracy in 1994.

The One in Nine Campaign estimates that only one-ninth of gender violence cases are ever reported. An important new initiative, involving the Medical Research Council, IDMT, SAPS, GL, and the CSVR seeks to pilot a set of indicators for establishing base line data on gender violence and monitoring progress in ending violence, using the City of Johannesburg as a pilot. This will involve supplementing administrative data from the police and courts with prevalence and attitude surveys that establish the real extent of the problem; its effects and the extent of under- reporting.

This year’s Sixteen Day campaign takes place against the backdrop of the adoption in August 2008 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that sets a target of halving gender violence by 2010. NGOs are calling on governments to fund multi sector 365 Day campaigns towards achieving this target as well as baseline studies for establishing the extent and effects of GBV so that progress can be effectively monitored.
For more information contact
Loveness Jambaya, Gender Justice Manager on 084 365 6930
Or GL Executive Director Colleen Lowe Morna on 082 651 6995  


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