Sixteen days – progress in ending gender violence is painfully slow

Date: January 1, 1970
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While there has been better coordination of efforts to end gender violence, progress is still “painfully slow” according to a statement released by Gender Links at the start of the Sixteen Days campaign that runs from 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) to 10 December, Human Rights Day. The full statement reads:

“It is significant that in the Sixteenth year of the Sixteen Days, government and civil society vowed following the 365 days of action to end gender violence conference in May 2006 to take a more programmatic approach to the campaign, using the sixteen days as a time to account, reflect and reposition rather than as a once off campaign.
The Kopanong Declaration set a number of tangible objectives and a structure to assist in achieving these. A secretariat has been established at the offices of the National Prosecution Authority with the support of UN agencies. One of the first activities has been to initiate an audit of all existing services to survivors of gender violence.
But progress in ending this scourge remains painfully slow:
§         Despite the government target of reducing all contact crimes by 7 to 10 percent per annum, rape only declined by 0.3 percent according to latest police statistics. When set against the estimate by the Medical Research Council that only one in nine rape cases are reported, this is even more minuscule.
§         There are still no police statistics on domestic violence, but figures showing that a woman is assaulted every four minutes suggests that this form of violence is exceptionally high.
§         The high proportion of children, especially girls, in the latest crime statistics and several cases reported in the papers on gender violence in schools is a shocking indictment on our society.
§         The Sexual Offences Bill, a key benchmark of the Kopanong Declaration, has still not been passed. The bill, that has been twelve years in the making, is expected to go to the National Council of Provinces in January. Against the advice of the South African Law Reform Commission, it does not provide for the full range of services required by survivors of sexual offences and its implementation mechanisms do not include civil society.
§         While statistics show that the highest conviction rates are achieved where “One Stop Centres” and sexual offences courts work hand in hand, these only service ten percent of the need. There is currently no clear strategy either for a large scale roll out of specialised facilities or for ensuring that the entire justice system works smoothly to ensure effective redress in cases of gender violence.
§         The closure of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units (FSC’s) by the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been ill thought through.
§         Consultative mechanisms need to be considerably strengthened to be effective.
Fact sheet: Score card
For more information contact
Loveness Jambaya on 073 115 9401
Colleen Lowe Morna on 082-651-6995

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