EFF wants tougher laws to end GBV and struggles faced by women

09 August 2021 - 19:42
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
EFF leader Julius Malema said South African women still lived under a dark cloud of fear, abuse, economic and social exclusion. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell EFF leader Julius Malema said South African women still lived under a dark cloud of fear, abuse, economic and social exclusion. File photo.

The EFF wants tougher laws, including more accountability from the police, to boost the fight against gender-based violence (GBV).

For example, the party wants the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to create a division that will focus on complaints against police who do not allow victims to open GBV cases. The unit would also investigate cases where police are complicit or are alleged to be the perpetrators of crimes against women, children and on gender-based violence crimes.

EFF leader Julius Malema said 65 years since the August 1956 women's anti-pass laws march, women of SA still lived under a dark cloud of fear, abuse, economic and social exclusion.

He said while the democratic dispensation brought about many constitutional rights, which are supposed to protect and uplift women, some these rights have not translated into reality.

Malema said women may as well be subjected to the pass laws of the apartheid regime, because they could not walk freely in taxi-ranks without being harassed, or be out at night without fear of being kidnapped.

The democratic South Africa has subjected the women of this country to invisible pass-laws in the form of permanent harassment and making them live in fear in the land of their birth,” he said.

He took issue with police officers, who, despite rape being rife in the country, continued to subject rape victims to secondary harassment and ridicule, and would instruct them to resolve abuse as a family matter.

The secondary victimisation of GBV victims was the reason a majority of cases remain unreported, he said.

“To curb this there must be education of the police on gender justice and the establishment of specialised law enforcement units to deal with women-related crimes,” he said.

Malema was speaking at an EFF virtual rally commemorating 65 years since thousands of women marched to the Union Buildings protesting against the apartheid government's pass laws.

He said the EFF wants GBV and sexual crime cases to be made schedule 5 offences, that are most likely to not receive bail in court, in order to protect victims from intimidation and further abuse.

Schedule 5 offences include murder, attempted murder, rape, drug-related crimes, corruption, extortion, fraud, illegal dealing or smuggling of firearms, and assault on a child under the age of 16.

If convicted of a schedule 5 offence, the minimum sentence is 15 years for a first offender.

Malema said the EFF will start a process to amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act and other existing legislation to include harsher minimum sentences for “corrective” rape specifically, or crimes committed with hatred as motivation in general.

The curriculum used in training police also needs to cover gender justice, the nuances of GBV, and should be constantly updated to address the multi-sectoral growth around gender justice and ensure that police are well versed on how to deal with offenders of cases of violence against women, he said.

Malema said GBV thrived because of the economic and social realities and that it was not enough to change laws to fight the exclusion and exploitation of women, but society has to change its values that make people think women are lesser beings.

Malema said some of the forms of GBV that society has to continue fighting against include the so-called “corrective rape” of women, the gender wage gap and women being denied land rights.

To do this, we must engage custodians of tradition, faith leaders and other cultural practitioners to collectively find means to combat the oppression of women and undo backward beliefs that perpetuate the abuse of women.”

At the level of the law, the state has to introduce a special inspectorate in the department of labour to monitor, report on and enforce gender equality in the workplace.

Such measures will range from heavy penalties to the withdrawal of trading licences in the case of repeat offenders of women exploitation,” he said.