Women are the core of all societies – women birth life, they are the primary caregivers in all families, the conduit of societal teachings and values, the very core of all economies.
What kind of country are we building for the future generation when women and girls are tortured, abused and killed and where families know about abuse and torture and say nothing? This is exactly what is happening on a daily basis in our country.
We need to dig deep into our hearts and minds and ask ourselves – how many more vicious and violent deaths need to happen in our homeland before we wake up to this serious social issue? How can we, as individuals and communities, stand up for and speak out on violence against women – violence in all forms.
How can we encourage women to speak up? How can we encourage men to speak up with no fear of retribution – of payback?
To address this there has to be:
- The establishment of adequately funded institutions at all levels of the social and criminal justice system armed with progressive human rights-based policies to support and secure justice for victims of sexual violence including:
- Special sexual offence courts and appointment of special courts to deal with the backlog of sexual offence cases
- A well-financed, autonomous administrative office for the multi-stakeholder sexual offence task force
- Specialized domestic and sexual violence units in hospitals or other health care facilities equipped with rape kits, trained nurses, counsellors, police officers and victim advocates so that survivors can receive all necessary professional services at one location
- Establishment of medical technologies so DNA evidence can be processed in a timely manner
- Nationwide educational programmes on prevention, protection and prosecution of sexual offences in collaboration with relevant NGOs, so that South African citizens can be informed on rape culture and rape myths and take informed action
- Ongoing training by competent and expert trainers for police, court personnel, judiciary and magistracy including how rape culture and rape myths fuel attitudes and behaviours which contribute to high incidences of sexual violence
- An independent audit and evaluation of all past and present governmental programmes that address(ed) sexual violence to determine their effectiveness.
As a society, we must find new ways to address GBV, building the current evidence base and responding to this national crisis.
By: Shireen Lakhi