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Women’s demands outlined in memorandum handed to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa

As Women's Month is acknowledged and celebrated, we need to be mindful of the fact that the oppression and repression of women across the globe has not yet come to an end. A day hardly goes by without women and children being abused. Gender based violence (GBV) is a reality thousands of women face.

As Women’s Month is acknowledged and celebrated, we need to be mindful of the fact that the oppression and repression of women across the globe has not yet come to an end. A day hardly goes by without women and children being abused. Gender based violence (GBV) is a reality thousands of women face.

GBV can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial and mental. Most acts of interpersonal gender-based violence are committed by men against women, and the man perpetrating the violence is often known by the woman. In most cases the abuser is a partner or family member. On August 1, thousands of women joined in marches across South Africa for a common purpose-to highlight the seriousness of GBV and femicide.

An organisation of feminists and gender activists were at the forefront of the march. The Total Shutdown and Intersectional march was organised with the intention of handing over a memorandum to the government. The memorandum consisted of 24 demands which follow below:

Women came out in their numbers to support the march.

1. A strong message from the office of the president that gender based violence against womxn, GBVAW, is pervasive and widespread and that it cannot be tolerated at any level of society. This includes a commitment never to appoint any individual who has been implicated or minimises the causes and consequences of GBVAW to cabinet or to lead a state institution. Further, a commitment to establish and drive a multi-stakeholder and comprehensive process to address and reduce GBVAW and a commitment to announce the dates of a national gender summit before August 30 this year.

DEADLINE: August 9, 2018

2. A review of past national action plans to end GBVAW with a view to understanding why they failed. .The ministry of women in the presidency be seized with the convening of a national process to lead the review. The terms of reference must include the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including relevant government departments and civil society formations. The process must also identify the individual and institutional causes of the failure and make recommendations.
DEADLINE: September 30, 2018

3. The development of a criteria and screening for appointing individuals who are tasked with leading efforts to end and respond to GBVAW. This includes the development of a criteria that seeks individuals who understand that GBVAW is a form of discrimination, it is overwhelmingly gender specific and it happens to womxn because they are womxn. It must also recognise that efforts to end GBVAW must be led by womxn and communities disproportionately affected by gender discrimination which includes transgender and gender non-conforming persons and who have worked on GBVAW issues; and have an understanding of the role that the State has to play in preventing violence from occurring and responding to violence once it has occurred.
DEADLINE: September 30, 2018

4. A development of a National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence (GBV) whose terms of reference will be determined by the review process envisaged under demand number two. The plan could be in the form of an update of the action plans that were not implemented. Furthermore, gender diversity as it relates to transgender and gender non-conforming persons must be integrated into the National Acton Plan on GBV to broadly combat and prevent GBV and hate crimes.
DEADLINE: October 30, 2018

5. Resuscitation of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women. A prerequisite for committee membership is a proven track record on working on GBVAW and gender diversity issues. The committee must develop a legislative schedule to assess the implementation of current legislation aimed at combating GBVAW with a view to determining the role played by gaps in the law in the failure to implement the law. To the extent that there are gaps, undertake law reform process.
DEADLINE: October 30, 2018

6.The establishment of accountability and oversight mechanisms to ensure that an adopted National Action Plan is implemented. This includes the establishment of an independent ombud on GBVAW, a special parliamentary oversight committee, and a specific enquiry mandate for the South African Human Rights Committee, Commission for Gender Equality and Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.
DEADLINE: November 25, 2018

7. Focusing on the prevention of re-victimisation and re-traumatisation through the establishment of a national and properly resourced hotline that will enable survivors to request and receive information on support services.
Parliament needs to pass the Combating and Prevention of Hate Crimes Bill to recognise and afford greater legal protections to transgender and gender non-conforming people who are often survivors of hate crimes perpetrated against them based on their gender identity and/or gender expression.
DEADLINE: November 30, 2018

8. Provision of prevention services and information on GBVAW with a view to raising awareness on the different forms of GBVAW, preventing violence and changing attitudes. This includes, among other things, updating the school curriculum to include content that informs learners about GBVAW and gender diversity.
DEADLINE: November 25, 2018

9.Training for legislators to provide them with information on key features of drafting legislation on developing laws aimed at combating GBVAW and promoting gender diversity and equality. The training programmes must include international human rights standards and model laws on legislating on GBVAW and gender diversity.
DEADLINE: November 30, 2018

10. Consistent sentencing and enforcement of existing laws in particular, the minimum sentencing legislation in sexual and domestic violence cases. The judiciary stops using harmful and negative gender stereotypes that reinforces secondary victimisation and legitimizes practices like victim-blaming and slut-shaming. Furthermore we demand that sentencing guidelines be developed for both magistrates and High Courts including sexual offences courts.
DEADLINE: November 30, 2018


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