Emergency plan announced to halt violence against women

Widespread protests have prompted the department of social development to release an emergency plan to address gender-based violence in South Africa.
Widespread protests have prompted the department of social development to release an emergency plan to address gender-based violence in South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

The department of social development has released details of its emergency plan to address gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa.

In a presentation on Wednesday to the parliamentary committee overseeing the government response to gender-based violence and femicide, the department listed a number of programmes that will be rolled out in coming weeks. These include:

  • three campaigns at higher education institutions during the 16 Days of Activism;
  • workshops with traditional leaders on the identification, reporting and referral of violence, child abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  • training 200 social workers across all nine provinces in trauma management; and
  • hiring more social workers to provide psycho-social support at a range of facilities.

The department’s presentation also revealed that increased funding will be allocated to NGOs that provide support and services to survivors and children.

Widespread concern about the government’s inaction in the face of gender-based violence - brought to a head by the murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in August - prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce on September 18 that a national strategic plan would be drawn up.

The emergency plan is an interim step. It aims to:

  • improve access to justice for survivors of GBV;
  • introduce programmes to change norms and behaviours;
  • provide a more urgent response for victims and survivors of GBV;
  • increase accountability for perpetrators; and
  • find ways to improve economic opportunities for women in order to reduce their economic vulnerability.

Among other interventions are the establishment of shelters that are inclusive for the LGBTIQ+ community and for people with disabilities; the creation of a therapeutic training programme for support for children and families affected by sexual abuse; and the creation of victim support service legislation that will be submitted to cabinet by March.

“There has been a systemic problem with how the state works and how citizens and the nation at large interface with the system,” said Brenda Madumise-Pajibo, co-chair of the interim steering committee on gender-based violence and femicide.

“One of the things that can make the system work is to start holding people accountable.”

A press statement released by the committee last week noted that a second draft of the bigger National Strategic Plan would be submitted to Cabinet next month.

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