Gender Justice Barometer, Issue 3: May 2006

Date: July 30, 2009
  • SHARE:

Southern Africa
Gender Justice Barometer
Issue 3:  May 2006
The Gender Justice Barometer is a joint project of Gender Links and the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network
In this issue:

1.  From 16 Days of Activism to 365 Days of Action Against Gender Violence  


* South Africa: No celebration as Sexual Offences Bill is approved by Cabinet

* Swaziland: Call to create register of child molesters

* Kenya: Women lose out in watered down Sexual Offences Bill    


* Schools not safe for girls in Southern Africa

* Tanzania: Study links bride price to the abuse of women


* 365 Days of action to end gender violence  


* Zimbabwe: Picking up the pieces after Murambatsvina

* South Africa‘s mischievous boys and virtuous girls





We encourage your feedback, comments and information you would like us to include. Send an email to:

Welcome to the third issue of the Southern Africa Gender Justice Barometer, a resource that provides information on developments addressing gender violence in Southern Africa.  

Over the past two months, the entire region has watched the rape trial of former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma unfold. Many have argued that one of the strongest messages that can be taken from the case is that, as argued by a Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service writer, “the entire system, from the laws, to the way police react, to the courts, to public attitudes, results in only a tiny proportion of women ever reporting, let alone getting a conviction in cases concerning gender violence.À In other words, the societal response to gender violence has and continues to be hopelessly inadequate.  

While gender violence appears to be on the political agenda of countries in Southern Africa, this has not been matched with the provision of services or resources to address this threat to the region’s development.  

A national conference held in South Africa at the beginning of May began a process through which it is hoped that government’s commitment to gender violence will be seen in more than the progressive policy and legislative framework in place (see integrated approaches below) and translate into tangible actions. The National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children brought together delegates from both government and civil society in a process that resulted in the Kopanong Declaration and National Strategy and Action Plan to End Gender Violence.  

The Kopanong Declaration, agreed to by the 260 delegates representing all spheres of government and a broad cross-section of South African society proposes to extend the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day) to a year long campaign.  

A critical provision of the Declaration is to establish baseline data on gender violence, especially domestic violence that is currently hidden within such police statistics as “indecent assaultÀ over the next six months. Overarching targets will then be set for reducing levels of violence, increasing conviction rates, and providing dignified, easily accessible services to survivors of gender violence.  

The South African process can be replicated across the region as the structure of the audit from which the process stems follows that of the SADC Addendum on the Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children and the Gender Justice Barometer. The process followed in South Africa has the potential to assist the region in mounting a comprehensive and effective response to the threat of gender violence.

South Africa: No celebration as Sexual Offences Bill is approved by Cabinet
On the cards since 1996, South Africa’s long awaited Sexual Offences Bill has been approved by cabinet. However, gender activists are far from pleased as the Bill, according to Joan Van Niekerk, national coordinator for Childline South Africa, “bears little resemblanceÀ to the South African Law Commission draft of 2003 which she helped draft. Concerns over the current version of the Bill include:
  • Complainants will have access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV if they report to the police or to the hospital. The bill does not mention the other issues for which sexual offence complainants require treatment such as pregnancy and STIs, these are covered within the department of Health policy.
  • A national register for sex offenders is created.   This is in addition to the existing child protection register. People who have not been convicted of a sex offence will not be on the register.   There are some detailed problems with this section such as the fact that people convicted of sexual offences against adults will not be on the register.   This is a duplication of the existing register and all aspects of this are addressed in the current child protection register.
  • The bill creates a National Policy Framework structure that will ensure improved coordination of different department’s responses to sexual offences. The bill does not provide for any communication, consultation or participation of civil society in this process.
  • This bill has not improved the application of in camera testimony for complainants in these matters, this existing provision is poorly implemented in courts; it fails to protect complainants from being questioned directly by accused who do not have defence council.
  • The bill has removed the provision of support persons for complainants in court, this provides for a support person to sit in close proximity to the witness and is thus different to the existing provision within section 153 of the criminal procedure act of 1977, which allows for the public to be cleared from the proceedings except for a person/s requested by the complainant.
Sources: Irin News and National Working Group of the Sexual Offences Bill

Swaziland: Call to create register of child molesters
The Swazi Observer reports that the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGGAA) is lobbying for the creation of a register of child molesters. The paper reports that the register “to be kept with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, is meant to publicise convicted child molesters so that their identities are known and to prohibit their employment in institutions. Swaziland has developed a Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill that would impose harsher sentences for those guilty of sexual offences.
Source: The Swazi Observer

Kenya: Women lose out in watered down Sexual Offences Bill
Women MPs in Kenya are up in arms as Parliament passed a much watered down Sexual Offences Bill. The Bill had been the subject of much debate as several male MPs reacted strongly to provisions concerning marital rape and female circumcision, arguing that criminalising marital rape and female circumcision undermine both private and community rights.
The East African Standard reports that “Most clauses that aimed at reining in serial rapists were deleted or amended during Committee of the Whole House. One of the amendments that enraged the women MPs was that rape would no longer apply to persons who are lawfully married.À
Source: East African Standard and Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service

Schools not safe for girls in Southern Africa
Irin News reports that delegates at a recent conference on violence against girls in Southern African schools have called on governments to “coordinate existing legislation to deal with the sexual abuse of children and set specific guidelines for schools to deal with the problem. Teachers’ unions have been asked to draw up a code of conduct for their members, and conference participants have formed a panel to create model guidelines to counter violence against girls in schools.À
Source: Irin News

Tanzania: Study links bride price to the abuse of women

A study conducted by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) has found that the paying of bride price is a contributory factor to the sexual abuse of women and denial of their rights to own property. This is according to a report published by Irin News. The news service reports that TAMWA conducted the study “to assess the effects of dowry with regard to violence against women, and to provoke national debate in a bid to raise awareness on the negative impact of the practice. It also aimed at proposing ways of rectifying the situation.À
Source: Irin News


365 Days of action to end gender violence
It is widely argued that efforts to address gender violence benefit from and indeed are more likely to be successful, if they are collaborative, inter-sectoral and involve as many stakeholders as possible; governments and civil society structures being critical players. This is the understanding that underpinned the planning and implementation of the National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.
The conference took place from may 3-5 and was opened by the Deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and attended by a number of Deputy Ministers. The outcome, The Kopanong Declaration and National Strategy and Action Plan to End Gender Violence are critical tools in South Africa’s efforts to end gender violence.

Zimbabwe: Picking up the pieces after Murambatsvina
By Miriam Madziwa
Operation Murambatsvina affected women mostly: widows, pregnant and nursing mothers, mothers living with HIV/AIDS, single mothers, unemployed women and grandmothers caring for orphans. In conversation today, women invariably single out Murambatsvina as an event that profoundly impacted on their lives. They recount how they lost homes they had struggled to build and furnish; of how their tuck-shops and flea markets stalls were looted, leaving them destitute.; of how overnight they found themselves sleeping in the open and then being moved from one location to the other while temperatures plummeted.

South Africa‘s mischievous boys and virtuous girls

By Nadira Omarjee
South Africa is a post-conflict society as well as a democracy in so far as suffrage but whether we are addressing the ills of the past is yet to be determined. The Jacob Zuma rape trial highlighted several issues that made me ponder as to how long will it take for South Africans to achieve liberation status?

Gender justice in Southern Africa
Gender Links, in partnership with the Gender and Media Southern Africa Network will be holding four gender justice workshops between June and August 2006. The purpose of the workshops will be to build the capacity of gender and media networks to run more effective gender justice campaigns, using the South African example of extending the 16 Days of Activism Campaign into a year-long initiative. Workshops are scheduled as follows:
Namibia: 4-7 July
Zambia: 24-27 July
Zimbabwe: 1-5 August
Mauritius: 14-18 August
For more information contact Kubi Rama or Nontobeko Dhlamini

South Africa: Gender and Media Literacy Course
The Gender and Media Literacy programme is a short training course on media literacy – the ability to be critical about what we see, hear and read. The course is ideal for individuals who work regularly with communications and would like to explore the gender dimensions of this;   as well as any members of the public who want to become “media literate….the first step to understanding media and to becoming an active media consumer.À
The course consists of 10 modules from 14 June to 16 August (Wednesday evenings from 17:00 À“ 19:00, and Saturday, 12 August from 9:00-16:00) at the Gender Links Office in Cyrildene, Johannesburg.
For more information contact Rochelle Davidson


Comment on Gender Justice Barometer, Issue 3: May 2006

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *