Gender Justice Barometer, Issue 17: August 2007

Date: July 29, 2009
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Southern Africa
Gender Justice Barometer

Issue 17:  August 2007

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

In this issue:
1. Regional: SADC Gender and Development Protocol firmly on the regional agenda
2. Zambia: National Action Plan to End Gender Violence gaining momentum
3.Mauritius: Domestic
Violence Action Plan to be validated soon
4. Tanzania: Stakeholders to develop a Communication Strategy around the National Plan of Action on gender violence
5. South Africa: Women’s month, a time to reflect
* Mauritius: Sexual Offences Bill still needs revisiting
* South Africa: One in Nine campaign protest over handling of rape cases
*Zambia: Gender Based Violence legislation still pending
*Botswana:   The National Action Plan to End Gender Violence to be revisited
*Regional: SADC Gender and Development Protocol – How it can save lives
* Africa: Mass male circumcision – what will it mean for women?
* Swaziland: Hard times raise levels of abuse
* Southern Africa: Gender activists urge leaders to bite the bullet
* Sex workers unprotected from violence
We encourage your feedback, comments and information you would like us to include. Send an email to:

Loveness Jambaya-Nyakujarah


1. Regional: Gender activists dismayed by SADC leader’s inaction

Gender activists are disappointed that SADC leaders failed to seize the opportunity at the just ended Lusaka Summit to take their commitment to ensuring gender equality in the region to another level, by not signing the Protocol on Gender and Development.

The fact that leaders failed to bite the bullet this year will only increase the pressure for implementation when the SADC Gender Protocol is finally signed.  Apart from the fact that the SADC Gender Protocol harmonises existing regional and international instruments to enhance gender equality, what also distinguishes it from these commitments is the number of concrete, time bound commitments to achieving key strategic objectives. Altogether the Protocol has twenty targets: six by 2010, and 14 by 2015.

The Southern African Protocol Alliance representing sixteen regional and national NGOs working to promote the rights of women in the region expressed their dismay at the outcome. In a press release the Alliance said, “We are at a loss as to why heads of state failed to seize the moment of the 2007 summit after the draft had successfully passed through all the preparatory stages. This included endorsement by ministers of gender; justice ministers and the Council of Ministers that generally comprises finance ministers from the regionÀ.

It is only hoped this time next year, at the next summit SADC Heads of State will finally sign the Protocol as a step towards ensuring that both women and men are able to realise their full potential and participate equally in all aspects of public and private life.

Click here for SADC Protocol Alliance press release on the outcome of the summit.

Click here for the Supplement produced ahead of the Summit

and the draft Gender and Development Protocol.

2. Zambia: National Action Plan to End Gender Violence gaining momentum

Representatives of civil society, government officials and media practitioners will be making a submission on the National Action Plan to End Gender Violence to Gender in Development Division (GIDD) as the department moves towards finalising the plan. This follows a workshop convened by Gender Links (GL) in partnership with Gender and Media Southern Africa Network (GEMSA) from 8th À“ 10th August 2007 to develop a 365 Day Action Plan to End Gender Violence.

In 2000, Zambia put together a National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence using the SADC Addendum on the Eradication of Violence against Women and Children as a framework around the five key areas: Legal; Social, Economic, Cultural and Political; Services; Education, Training and Awareness and Integrated Approaches. However the plan remained in draft form until 2007 when GIDD revisited it. Stakeholder consultations are still in progress and it is against this background that outputs from the workshop will be submitted to GIDD for consideration before finalisation of the national action plan.

A task team with representatives from civil society and media practitioners was formed to ensure that the submissions is canvassed as widely as possible with the rest of civil society before being presented to GIDD for consideration. The plan is to submit these inputs at a stakeholders’ workshop to be held by GIDD soon on a date to be announced and have them incorporated in the final action plan.

3. Mauritius: Domestic Violence Action Plan to be validated soon

Issues of domestic violence will be tackled head on in Mauritius as different action plans to end gender violence crafted by the Ministry of   Women’s Rights Child Development Family Welfare and Consumer Protection (MWRCDFWCP), Mauritius Women Media Watch (MWO-GEMSA) and the UNDP are harmonised into one national plan.

MWRCDFWCP intends to organize a validation workshop for all stakeholders involved in the Action Plan. Once validated the amended Action Plan will be sent to Cabinet to be approved as the National Action Plan on Domestic Violence.

The Action Plan contains five strategic objectives:

  • Improving legislation on Domestic Violence and strengthening of the justice system and other agencies response.
  • Ensure appropriate, accessible, timely and coordinated multi-agency responses and support to all victims and children who need it.
  • Sensitise and change attitudes to prevent Domestic Violence from happening in the first place.
  • Promote responsible reporting, sensitisation and provision of a forum by media specialists to encourage community leaders to discuss domestic violence.
  • Undertake research and development of tools to train monitor and evaluate actions to promote best practices.

A number of priority actions have been identified. These include:

  • Validation of the action plan.
  • The Gender Thematic Group to carry out a comprehensive study on Domestic Violence in the country to obtain information on the nature and extent of Domestic Violence and the cost of Domestic Violence to the Mauritian economy.
  • Training of officers posted in Family Support Bureau.
  • mass media campaign on domestic violence
  • Sensitisation of students at secondary level.

Click here for Mauritius Domestic Violence Action Plan

4. Tanzania: Stakeholders to develop a Communication Strategy around the National Plan of Action on gender violence

Communications and media NGOs, media practitioners as well as government officials will be converging to draft a communications strategy for the Tanzania National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence.

Tanzania is one of the first countries to have developed a multi- sector National Plan of Action for the Eradication of Violence against women and children in Southern Africa with an implementation timeframe stretching from 2001 to 2015.

With the vision, to have a society free of physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violence against women and children, the plan of action uses the 1998 SADC Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence as a framework.

However in 2006 it was acknowledged that the plan of action has not been widely disseminated and it was reprinted. A concerted effort is needed to continue popularising the plan with a cross section of the Tanzanian society as well as accelerate implementation in order to meet the targets set out. The aim of the workshop is to run strategic communications training on running sustainable gender justice campaigns using the plan of action as a basis.

5. South Africa: Women’s month, a time to reflect

By Loveness Jambaya

As South Africa celebrates women’s month many events at national and local level have been lined up.   The question is are these just opportunities to spend a bit of money and make more promises or is the time used to reflect on women’s issues and ensure this reflection is followed by real action? Maybe, maybe not depending on which side of the divide you are.

Apart from commemorating International Women’s Day on 8th March, South Africa also celebrates National Women’s Day on the 9th of August each year. The day now a public holiday, commemorates 9 August 1956, when women participating in a national march petitioned against pass laws (legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’). In fact the whole month of August has been dedicated to women.

In the past half century since the landmark event, women of South Africa have achieved a number of milestones which however, need to be guarded jealously.   For example the country has a woman Vice President, Phumzile Mlambo Ncquka, more women occupy senior decision making positions and local government boasts over 40% women councillors and a progressive constitution which recognises the rights of women as human rights.

But there are many challenges that sometimes seem to overshadow the gains. Poverty reflected through the 80% unemployment À“ majority being women, violence against women reflected by high rape statistics, housing challenges, HIV and AIDS pandemic and so forth.   Several policy papers, pending Bills and action plans are in place to deal with these issues but implementation often seems to take place at a snail pace.

Action not promises is what South African women need in all spheres of their life if celebrating women’s month is going to remain meaningful in their individual spaces.


Mauritius: Sexual Offences Bill still needs revisiting

MWO-GEMSA has made a submission with comments on the Sexual Offences Bill. The priority is to lobby legislators to ensure that the Bill is made into law by end of 2008 to facilitate better protection from sexual offences.

There has been a call to include a clause that deals rehabilitation of survivors as well as perpetrators of violence. It is also suggested that a wider definition of rape to include marital rape, that abortion be permitted in specified cases, institute severe penalties to offenders, protection against trafficking as well as video recording of complaints to reduce distress of victims. The Bill also needs to ensure education counseling, empowerment and availability of the therapeutic programme for survivors of sexual violence.

Supervision of dangerous sexual offenders and also to make provision for Drug and alcohol treatment orders. The organisation also suggested that there be a National register of offenders. It is hoped these provisions will be incorporated in the Bill before it is passed into law.

South Africa: One in Nine Campaign protest over handling of rape cases

The One in Nine Campaign staged a symbolic crucifixion  to signify rape survivors’ experiences of the court process on 16th August. During another protest held earlier, women were chained to the high courts in Grahamstown and Johannesburg. In Cape Town there will be a Keep Justice Alive protest on 23rd August. The protests were used to promote the 16 Demands which were launched during the 16 Days of Activism last year. This is part of the August: No Cause for Celebration: A time for Action activities.

According to One in Nine Campaign rape survivors often describe their experiences in court as being ‘the second rape’. The accused, even when pleading not guilty, is not compelled to give evidence and he may not be questioned. This results in the complainant, even though a witness for the State, not being able to question the accused in relation to the rape incident and charges. Specifically, rape survivors’ experiences of giving evidence in chief and cross examination can be traumatic because her narrative may not necessarily fit into the linear legal narrative required by the courts.

The following are just some of the problems:

  • Hostile attitudes and patriarchal prejudices against complainants of those interpreting and applying laws and presiding over rape cases.
  • The length of time it takes for a matter to be heard and therefore for the complainant to access justice and redress.
  • The lack of protection for complainants and her witnesses from intimidation.
  • Lack of services such as medical care and counselling treatment.
  • Inconsistent application of sentencing frameworks.
  • Complainants’ experiences of secondary victimisation within the criminal justice system. The violent nature of the crime; treatment by the police and courts; low prosecution and conviction rates.
  • Absence of court preparation / counselling and other support for complainants at state’s expense

The coalition called for ‘drastic’ and sustained pressure to jolt law and policy makers into action.

Zambia: Gender Based Violence legislation still pending

There are concerns around the continued delay in passing the Gender Based Violence Act which is still a draft Bill while victims and survivors of gender based violence have to rely on the Penal Code. However before the draft bill is gazetted there is a need to revise it to include emerging issues such as the link between HIV and AIDS and GBV, hence include a clause on provision of PEP to victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.

It also needs to be aligned to the Penal Code as well as the Matrimonial Causes Bill. Participants attending a workshop early August to draw up a submission to the Gender in Development Division (GIDD) on the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence called on government to prioritise the passing of the GBV draft bill and the Matrimonial Causes Bill to ensure that survivors of GBV have access to justice.


Botswana:  The National Action Plan to End Gender Violence to be revisited

As more countries in Southern African Region adopt National Action Plans to End Gender Violence, the Botswana National Women’s Machinery and civil society will soon be going to the drawing board to revisit an action plan to end gender violence drawn up in 2001.

The Women’s Affairs Department (WAD) in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs will also be working towards addressing the twin pandemics of HIV and AIDS and Gender Based Violence with support from UNIFEM.    A report presented in May 2005 indicates that six out of ten women in Botswana are lifetime survivors of gender based violence.   According to WAD reasons for gender based violence include patriarchy, poverty, women’s dependence on men and the overall failure to grant women social, economic and legal rights.

Yet there is no Domestic Violence Act.  The Bill which has been on the cards for the past five years is expected to be debated in the current parliament session.   Like all countries in the Southern African region Botswana also battles with HIV and AIDS with more the prevalence being higher in women.

It is clear that a multi-sector approach is needed to address both gender violence and HIV and AIDS in the country several strategies are being considered including revisiting the  National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence using an integrated approach.


Regional: SADC Gender and Development Protocol – How it can save lives

By Nadi Ali

My experience from interviewing dozens of low income women in Zambia earlier this year makes clear that poverty and health crises like HIV cannot be overcome unless and until state commitments to eradicate gender-based violence and to ensure equality between women and men in the SADC constitutions, are turned into action.

The good news is that SADC has a draft roadmap to overcome sex inequality: the draft Gender and Development Protocol. The bad news is that for many of the SADC countries, the most fitting title for this map would be “the road less travelled.”


Africa: Mass male circumcision – what will it mean for women?

Women’s voices have gone largely unheard in the debate on male circumcision as an HIV prevention method, but informal discussions with women reveal a range of concerns, preferences and views that researchers and governments would do well to consider before drawing up plans for rolling out a national circumcision programme. Read more.

Source: IRIN News

Swaziland: Hard times raise levels of abuse

About 40 percent of Swaziland’s one million people are facing acute food and water shortages; coping strategies have worn thin and frustrations are running high, all contributing to rising abuse and risky behaviour.

A nurse at the local Lavumisa clinic pointed to a girl with her arm in a cast, fractured by her father. “Parents beating children – they are frustrated, and they take it out on the little ones,” she said. According to SWAGAA counsellors, cases of all types of abuse have risen in number and intensity this year. “The degree of brutality is something we have never seen before,” said Dlamini. Read full article

Source: IRIN News


Southern Africa: Gender activists urge leaders to bite the bullet

By Colleen Lowe Morna

A powerful consortium of gender activists urged their leaders to make history by adopting the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development when they meet in Lusaka, Zambia in August.

In a statement, the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance commended gender ministers from the region for approving one of the most far reaching instruments anywhere in the world for achieving gender equality at an extraordinary meeting in July. The draft has also been passed by justice ministers who met in Lesotho in early August to ensure legal compliance before the Protocol is placed before heads of state.

Attorney General of Botswana Dr Athalia Molokomme has said that the Protocol would “place this region at the forefront and cutting edge of the achievement of one of the last frontiers of democracy and human rights: gender equality.À Read full article

Sex workers unprotected from violence

By Loga Virahsawmy

Though Southern Africa is seeing increasing opportunities and rights for women, for those engaged in sex work, protection from gender violence continues to be elusive. Some people even argue that sex workers cannot be victims of rape at all.

Moreover, when they are victims of violence or sexual assault, few receive help from police or health services. Many turn to drugs or alcohol. Read full article

No media freedom without women’s voices

By Mwiika Malindima

Among the most ground breaking provisions of the draft SADC Gender Protocol are those relating to media freedom. Article 12 states that: “Member States shall recognise that gender equality is intrinsic to freedom of expression, that all males and females have the right to communicate their views, interests and needs, and that “giving voice to the voicelessÀ is critical to citizenship, participation, and responsive governance.À

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