Speech by the Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya Launch of Brothers for Life – Gender Based Violence Campaign
20 Oct 2010
My colleague, the Minister of Health
Chairperson of SANAC Men’s Sector
Country Director of Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa
Director of Sonke Gender Justice
All Brothers for Life ambassadors gathered here
Ladies and gentlemen
It is very exciting to learn about the extensive amount of work that Brothers for Life does. This initiative is making an enormous contribution to our country’s response to the challenge of gender based violence and its link to other social challenges facing our country. These include the spread of HIV infection and impact of AIDS as well as alcohol abuse which remain a common factor in cases of violence, breakdown of families, road accidents and many other problems.
I am encouraged by the fact that you have located this initiative within the context of 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women and Children which we will be launching next month. This campaign has achieved many successes, making it the most recognisable government-led initiative after the State of the Nation Address.
At this point of the 16 Campaign, we need to mobilise even more people of our country to own the principle of “Don’t Look Away; Act Against Abuse”. We have to turn the high-levels of awareness that has been achieved into behavioural change. I am glad that the campaign being launched this evening taps into a valuable resource we have – the majority of men of country who are good brothers, sons, husbands and fathers. We need to activate this resource and get these men to be active players in their respective communities. And the use of sports and entertainment personalities is one of the effective ways of encouraging positive trends and behaviours in our communities.
I am observing a very positive trend developing within the men sector in our country – that of men wanting to be engaged and wanting to play a meaningful role in creating a better life for all. I have personally received a number of invitations from faith-based men’s groups, e.g. Amadodana aseWeseli, Lutheran Church and others. They all want to engage on the contribution they want to make in addressing various social challenges facing our country.
Last year, we had a huge men’s imbizo in Soweto last year and I understand that another programme involving men and boys is being planned in Daveyton, Gauteng again this year. We have to encourage and support these initiatives that bring men together as partners for positive causes in our society.
Programme director, the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities is responsible for, amongst other things, coordination of campaigns like the 16 Days of Activism which seek to improve social conditions of women and children. We also play advocacy and oversight role on all issues affecting the three marginalised groups and mainstream gender, disability and children’s rights consideration into government programme of action and in broader South African society.
So, as part of our work, we engage with issues such as the rate of crime and how it affects women and children in particular. The latest Crime Trends Report (released in September 2010) indicates an overall decrease of 4,4% in the number of Sexual Offences. This is a significant progress for our country especially since it comes with decreases in other categories of crime affecting our society such as murder and robbery.
As part of our oversight function, the Ministry looks closer into crimes directly affecting women and children. Crime against children of both genders under the age of 18 is an area of main concern. There have been increases in the incidence of attempted murder, sexual offences and murder against children between 2008/09 and 2009/10. Attempted murder against children increased from 782 to 1 113 and murder increased from 843 to 965. The increase in the number of sexual offences against children should be a specific focus of our campaigns as government and civil society.
It should be emphasised that various previous analyses pertaining to crimes against children according to age indicate that most of the crimes are committed against children between the ages of 15 to 17 years old. However, we cannot ignore the fact that a number children between 0 and 10 years continue to be victims of abuse including abduction, rape and murder.
The Ministry commissioned a study to look into the possible causes of child killings. This study involves interviews and collection of information around the people who are currently in correctional service centres convicted of child murder. We hope this study can begin to build a profile of a child murderer and provide information that should shape further interventions in dealing with the killing of our children. I hope the process of verification of findings with Statistic South Africa will be finalised in time for us to release this report during the period of the 16 Days Campaign.
We need to work together as government and civil society to protect women and children from all forms of abuse. Government is reinforcing measures through specialised police units dealing with crimes against children and women. Efforts are being made to enhance the implementation of Domestic Violence Act and other laws passed to prevent and deal with cases of abuse.
The strengthening of the criminal justice system response to abuse of women and children will not succeed if it is not complemented by efforts to change individual and community behavior. These abuses happen in our homes and in our communities. Therefore, we all have a responsibility at that level to take action against abuse – to report cases, act as witnesses and to support survivors of abuse.
The campaign we are launching this evening addresses this factor focusing on men as critical partners in an effort to stop violence against women and children. The majority of South African men do not commit violence against women and children. Let us mobilise this majority of men to break the silence and take action to prevent violence against women and children. Let us encourage men to show those that are committing violence that they can change and promote services that address gender based violence.
The Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities supports this campaign. We would like us to work together particularly in the hosting of community dialogues to engage communities on the causes Gender Based Violence as I believe these interventions are critical in systematically changing perceptions and anti-social behaviour in our communities. We want these community engagements to be at the centre of our campaign so that we respond directly to the challenges facing our people.
With these few words, I wish you all the best with this campaign. May it see many more celebrities and high-profile personalities joining this campaign. Most of all, let it reach out to every ordinary men of our country to become partners and take action against abuse of women and children.
Thank you very much and all the best.
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
20 Oct 2010
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