Today I lead a placard demonstration in East London to mark the end of Women’s Month. The aim of this demonstration is to convey DAWN’s commitment to the eradication of the scourge of rape and other forms of gender-based violence in South Africa.
South African women have been continuously let down by an inadequate criminal justice system that fails to deal effectively with incidents of rape and gender-based violence.
Under an ANC government, gender-based violence has been allowed to spread unabated through the passing of numerous pieces of legislation without putting any implementation measures in place. Moreover, the ANCWL have clearly reneged on their mandate to advocate for women’s rights and have chosen to become the guardians of rape culture and patriarchy instead.
It has become clear the South African criminal justice system is not adequately equipped to deal with gender-based violence. Police officers do not have the necessary skills to respond to gender-based violence. This results in victims of gender-based violence not getting the appropriate relief. Furthermore, traumatised women are often further abused by ill-trained police officers.
The state needs to focus on increasing access to sexual offences courts and ensuring that they are adequately funded. There needs to be a concerted effort to remedy the fact that only one in nine incidents of sexual assaults are actually reported and that the conviction rate of reported cases that are actually reported is incredibly low.
DAWN is furthermore calling for the expansion and strengthening of specialised training for members of the South African Police Service and other civil servants in order to provide a structured response to gender-based violence.
Under a DA government, gender-based violence will be targeted through specialised units and this will result in a police force that is prepared to respond to high levels of domestic and sexual violence.
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