Keynote address delivered on behalf of North West MEC for Human Settlement, Safety and Liaison, Mme Desbo Mohono, at the launch of the Integrated Provincial Strategy to reduce and combat sexual offences and the Provincial and Media launch of the 16 Days of Activism on no violence Against Women and Children Campaign held at Monamakgoteng Community Hall
25 Nov 2010
Speaker of Moses Kotane Local Municipality, Cllr Matlakala Nonzaba
Rrangwane Kobedi Pilane
Dikgosana tse di tlotlegang
MMC’s and Councillors
Executive and Senior Managers from all spheres of government
Cluster Commanders and Station Commanders
Members of Provincial Community Policing Board, Cluster Community Policing Board and Community Policing Forums
Representatives of the Progressive Women Movement, Business Sector, North West
Business against Crime, non-government organisations, churches, faith based organisations
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
A Senegalese author Mariama Ba in her novel “So Long a Letter” says: (I quote):
"Women should no longer be decorative accessories, objects to be moved about, companions to be flattered or calmed with promises. Women are the nation's primary, fundamental root, from which all grows and blossoms. Women must be encouraged to take a keener interest in the destiny of the country".
Mariama Ba's sentiments and words have a universal message and are relevant to us in South Africa even today and have a particular resonance and significance, as we today launch the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children Campaign in this rural community.
If we take her words seriously the level of violence, abuse and crime that is perpetuated against women and children would not have reached such disturbing proportions in our country. What she is saying is that unless women take their rightful role in our society, we will continue to face such violent conduct and abuse. These acts that are perpetuated against women of all ages should stop now!
Those who continue to abuse women and children in our country, are in the main, people who neither understand nor respect the rights and role of women in our society, and we must say though that they are really in the minority, as real men do not abuse women and children, nonetheless we must do everything in our power to stop them now! Such people, abusers have no place in our society!
We once again stress the message of partnerships in our struggle to fight against this scourge and we say that the success of the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign lies in the fact that it has become a 365 Days Campaign, the 16 Days is merely a culmination of what has been a year long campaign!
In launching this year’s campaign, we share former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan assertion that “Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.”
Women of our country led by selfless revolutionaries like Comrade Mma-Bertha Gxowa had for decades waged a struggle against the triple oppression of women on the grounds of gender, race and class as they constituted the category of the population most seriously affected by the apartheid system. Like the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were violently assassinated in 1960 during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship, heroines of our liberation struggle led by the likes of Mma-Bertha Gxowa, Ray Alexander, Charlotte Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi, Alberina Sisulu, Fatima Meer, Helen Joseph to name but a few gallantly fought against the patriarchal apartheid state that accentuated the subjection of women.
Previously, this day was observed in Latin America and a growing number of other countries around the world as "International Day against Violence against Women". With no standard title, it was also referred to as "No Violence against Women Day" and the "Day to End Violence against Women".
It was first declared by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held as from 18 to 21 July 1981 in Bogota, Colombia. It was at that Encuentro that women systematically denounced gender violence from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to state violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners.
The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa referred to as “Unforgettable Butterflies" who have become a symbol against victimisation of women.
Their struggle for freedom and respect for human rights for all has transformed them, like Comrade Mma Bertha Gxowa and other heroines of our struggle for liberation into symbols of dignity and inspiration. They are symbols against prejudice and stereotypes, and their lives raised the spirits of all those they encountered and later, after their brutal assassination, not only those in the Dominican Republic but others around the world.
The 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women is an international initiative endorsed by the United Nations. It takes place annually from 25 of November which is an International Day of No Violence against Women and runs up 10 December which is International Human Rights Day.
Other key commemorative days that fall within this period include World AIDS Day on 1 December 2010 and International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which falls on 3 December of every year. According to the United Nations (UN), violence against women encompasses a wide range of abuses. These are "physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and in the general community, battering, sexual abuse of children, dowry-related violence, rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women and violence related to exploitation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and violence perpetrated or condoned by the state”
This year’s 20th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign is inspired by the strength and commitment of the movement that works tirelessly to eliminate gender-based violence in the home and in the world. Over the years, the 16 Days network has multiplied and now includes participation from more than 800 organisations in over 90 countries.
In our country, the campaign has focused primarily on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children as well as society as a whole. It has served as the main social mobilisation tool against the prevalence of acts of abuse against women and children. According to Government Communication Information System Tracker Survey, the campaign has grown exponentially over the past 11 years making it the second most known government event in our country, after the State of the Nation Address.
The GCIS Tracker Survey also indicates a significant rise in public awareness levels in rural areas from nine percent in 2003 to 33% in 2009. Our being here in Manamakgotheng bears testimony of our determination to raise the level to an even higher level. Working together with our community policing forums, the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Health and Social Development and our municipalities, our police managed to curb human trafficking and the scourge of abuse of women and children through crime prevention operations during the 2010 Football World Cup.
Through the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement agencies, supported by our Community Policing Forums and our communities, rape cases were reduced by 6,4% while total sexual offenceswere reduced by five percent. The 2009/10 Crime Analysis report shows that we have made significant strides to reduce crime involving neglect of children by -19,1%,child abuse by -12,6%,ill-treatment of children by -3,91% and child care by -3,03%.Abduction and kidnapping were also reduced by -15,27% and -12,75% respectively.
We are confident that the reestablishment of Family violence and child protection and sexual offences units will bolster our effort to decrease sexual/ indecent assaults which increased by an unacceptable 180%.
The strategy we are launching was developed after it was among others realised that there was no concerted effort to research contributory factors of sexual offences therefore services were mostly reactionary. Communication and coordination between the implementing role players was on ad hoc and in some instance lacking, resulting in victims being assisted in some quarters and re-victimised in other quarters.
The strategy has a direct link with the National Crime Prevention Strategy which aims to ensure coordination of crime prevention initiatives and to ensure that communities enjoy good community police relations and restore confidence in the ability of government to provide an accessible, efficient, effective, accountable, transformed and reliable services.
It focuses on six priority areas, i.e. prevention, early intervention, responses of the criminal justice system, victim support and service provision, research and information and an integrated and collaborative approach.
It will also address skewed distribution of services and resources concentrated in urban areas so that they reach our rural communities in order to enable us to meet our objective of decreasing the number of reported rape incidents very year. Government alone succeed without support of our communities. We therefore wish to extend our call to action to the media, the Progressive Women’s movement, organised labour, churches, other faith based organisations, traditional leaders, non-government organisations, women and youth groups to be part of the campaign and the implementation process of the strategy to prevent and combat sexual offences.
It will contribute towards meeting the national target set for the reduction of contact crimes by seven per annum. We call on the business sector to adopt and support programmes by municipalities towards the implementation of the crime prevention through environmental design strategy which complements our Integrated Provincial Strategy to prevent and combat sexual offences.
Working together we can do more to take the 16 Days of Activism Campaign to even higher levels this year as we implement the 365 days plan of action adopted after the 10 year review of the campaign last year.
Through this plan and the integrated provincial strategy to prevent and combat sexual offences , we shall address key underlying factors behind the high prevalence and vicious nature of the incidents of violence against women and children. The Thuthuzela Centres that government has set up, one of which is at the Bophelong Provincial hospital in our province are aimed at reducing secondary victimisation of women who had gone through the ordeal of rape. Since their establishment, conviction rate at the centreshas showed a remarkable 63% improvement from between 85 and 90% at centreslinked to sexual offences courts.
The finalisation of cases cycle from reporting to conclusion has also been reduced to within six months. Let us be sure that every home is a site of struggle and a place of safety for women and children so that a home is truly a home! We urge everyone in all of their homes to speak out and make that crucial decision. Abusers should seek help and own up. They should take the right step of seeking held now and not hurt another child or woman.
We urge everyone at home, at school, at work and in the community to wear the white ribbon every day for 16 days from 25 November to 10 December to show that they do not accept women and child abuse. Wearing a white ribbon will let victims and survivors know we are united in supporting them; it might also encourage perpetrators to change their ways, it will help bring more people into the fight against abuse.
We should use the 16 Days of Activism to commit ourselves and persuade others to give practical support throughout the year to the call not to commit acts of abuse. I wish to make an earnest appeal toparents to look after their children and not to let alcohol deter them and cause them to neglect their children during the festive season.
We appeal to you not to leave your children alone with strangers or friends and relatives you cannot say you trust absolutely. Our activism should influence society towards appreciation of shared values of Ubuntu, respect for human rights and dignity. It should teach male chauvinists that culture, tradition and religion should no longer be used as excuses to suppress and undermine the human dignity and rights of our women and children.
In conclusion programme director,we concurwith the Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Comrade Lulu Xingwana that a society that does not respect its women and children is a dysfunctional society. As the people of the North West,let us join our fellow South African in declaring through activism within our homes, work places, in our churches, schools and in our communities that we do not, and we refuse to be part of such a society.
It is incumbent upon all of us not to look away, but to act against abuse of women and children. As Mariama Ba says, “Women are the nation's primary, fundamental root, from which all grows and blossoms”. They are people with feelings and not sex objects or punching bags.
Working together we can do more to restore their dignity, love and protect them and our children.
Ke a leboga.
Tel: 018 381 9171
Fax: 018 381 9123
Cell: 083 629 1987
Issued by: North West Human Settlements, Public Safety and Liaison
25 Nov 2010
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