In South Africa, cases about rape have become our daily news, whether you read it on the morning news headlines, watch it on prime-time television news or hear about it from your neighbour. The news has become synonymous to hearing about the weather.
Team building activity: The helium pole
Rape Crisis is an organisation whose work is for the healing and empowerment of survivors of sexual violence. Our work is founded on feminist principles of advocacy, freedom from patriarchal violence and freedom of choice. Rape Crisis makes visible the needs as well as the experience and disempowering reception and treatment of survivors as they navigate the system in search of help and justice.
In our previous blog The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) we described how UN Member States, civil society organisations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss matters of importance for the rights of women across the world.
South Africa being a member state is represented by Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Bathabile Dlamini who leads a government and civil society delegation that includes Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. The delegation will present South Africa’s report on the status of social protection system, access to public service, sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in South Africa. Minister Zulu will also participate in some of the ministerial roundtables, high level interactive dialogue and interactive expert panels.
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in UN activities.
During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organisations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields.
Ways to be more politically and socially active
- The next time you are with family or friends, instead of letting conversation drift to idle chatter or celebrity gossip, discuss a particular cause that is close to your heart or that you feel strongly about.
- Stay focussed on one cause. It is fine to take up many causes, but always recognise your main cause.
- Find a political magazine, a local newspaper or an online blog and write for them on issues relating to your cause.
- Organize a group of four or five people and attend protests together.
- Talk to people that are different from you as a way to challenge stereotypes.
During the State of the Nation Address, delivered on 7 February 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa more than once mentioned the issue of gender based violence. He confirmed that more funds will be dedicated to places of support, such as Thuthuzela Care Centres, and that government is working to ensure the better functioning of Sexual Offences courts. Funds must be made available to civil society organisations who already provide specialist support services to survivors to continue to deliver and expand these services. This will mean that more rape survivors can access justice and support services.
We believe that all survivors of sexual offences should have access to a specialised court. Rape Crisis Director Kathleen Dey says, “We believe that the culture of impunity for perpetrators of rape will be addressed by a stronger criminal justice system with support services, sexual offences courts and more prosecutions”.