365 Days of Protecting Womxn
Cape Town, 26 November 2020 – The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) continues to hold its stance that eradicating violence against womxn should be a focal point of our every day and not only 16 days of the year. This is in light of the fact that only 7.8% of the 53 293 sexual offence cases reported in 2019 to 2020 result in a conviction, the lowest it has been in 5 years, despite claims by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)*. Similarly, while violence is often thought of as purely physical, we know that it can take on many forms such as physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial, and exists in both the public and private spheres.
Violence within the private sphere is when womxn are subjected to domestic violence in their household by their intimate partners. This violence can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial.
Violence within the public sphere is when womxn are unable to walk the streets, go to school, or go to the post office without being harassed, victimised, raped and assaulted by men in South Africa.
Violence within the economic sphere is when womxn are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace and unable to speak out due to fear of further victimisation and loss of employment.
Violence within the legal sphere is when womxn are evicted and relocated to the urban periphery with violent conditions or when womxn who report rape are interrogated on their sexual behaviour and virginity to establish whether they were actually raped.
Violence is systemic when our government excludes black womxn from social protections through legislation, reinforces apartheid practices which deems womxn’s work to be of less value and when our government officials and the South African Police Service lack the necessary sensitivity to deal with victims of violence.
The poor socio-economic circumstances many face in South Africa, such as living in informal settlements and having to share communal toilets, also contribute to violence against womxn. These sources of violence will require both individual and holistic intervention in order to eradicate them all.
We believe stakeholders and the government should use the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence as an opportunity to consult with womxn in order to develop a multi-pronged approach informed by womxn to eradicate violence against womxn, empower womxn and hold perpetrators, as well as the public and private sector accountable.
As we move into 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we should look within ourselves and be mindful of reinforcing violent behaviours which we are taught through societal pressures and norms. Let us move away from these norms and be conscious, so that we prioritise the needs of womxn every day.
* WLC submission to three Gender Based Violence Bills to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/3mjziky
About the WLC
The Women’s Legal Centre remains open for business, fulfilling their mandate to serve womxn, regardless of the circumstances. They can be reached on 079 421 8197 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org