Take GBV as seriously as Covid-19, Bathabile Dlamini urges government

ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini says the number of people affected by gender-based violence far outweighs the number of Covid-19 infections.
ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini says the number of people affected by gender-based violence far outweighs the number of Covid-19 infections.
Image: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald

ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini has called on the government to take gender based-violence as seriously as it does the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the government had moved decisively to curb the spread of coronavirus - and that the same decisiveness was needed to deal with the country's GBV crisis.

She said GBV claimed the lives of thousands of people every year, and the number of people affected by gender-based violence far outweighed the number of Covid-19 infections.

"The president has already pronounced that violence against women is a national crisis and a national emergency. Covid-19 had [not] infected 1,000 people and yet government acted decisively to save the lives of citizens, calling for state of national disaster," said Dlamini.

"We are calling on government to take decisive steps to save the lives of women and children of South Africa."

She was speaking during an online ANCWL and alliance partners' event on Monday, where league members and gender and community activists agreed that women's rights were continuously violated and that GBV had to be brought to an end.

Reading out a memorandum during the event, Dlamini said the women call on the government to establish a specialised police unit in every police station dedicated to gender-based violence.

South Africa must know that women have the right to be safe.
Bathabile Dlamini

“Saps must ensure that members of these specialised units have never been accused of GBV and are appropriately trained to deal with GBV crisis management,” said Dlamini.

"We demand that government employs women that are going to intensify the implementation of laws that address violence against women and children and also gender mainstreaming by government institutions. South Africa must know that women have the right to be safe.”

The memorandum also calls for the government to introduce programmes to resocialise men because they are the perpetrators.

“Women do not have a problem - it is men that have a problem,” said Dlamini.

She called on the government to review the autonomy of institutions of higher learning and for institutions to report back on what action they have taken against gender-based violence perpetrators on their campuses.

The league reiterated calls for no bail for GBV perpetrators, life sentences without parole, chemical castration of rapists and the publishing of the sex offenders' list. They also called on parliament to introduce a bill that will make it the responsibility of a perpetrator to prove his innocence and not of the victim to prove his guilt.

Dlamini also called for the school curriculum to cover issues of violence against women and children.

"Children must learn about equality and power relations so that we can start making an impact on our socialisation," she said.

"Schools must include gender-based violence in their curriculum. They must start now - training both boys and girls on gender equality, so that as a country we can start strengthening families."

The former minister called out the ANC, saying before the organisation could go out to condemn gender-based violence, it should start doing so internally. 

She said women leaders in the government like ministers Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu had been targets of attacks, whereas “even the worst-performing men are not even complained about”. 

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