On the 28 of March a group of would be writers gathered at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education to attend the second in a series of workshops hosted by Rape Crisis in order to learn about writing on the topic of rape. The workshop was facilitated by Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust Director Kathleen […]
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.
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.
Anyone can be a leader, whether they hold the title of a leader in an organisation or not. But what does it mean to be a feminist leader? This is a question that we at Rape Crisis have been thinking deeply about from the time the organisation was founded in 1976. We have not always made this thinking clear or visible to others, but a recent grant from the African Women’s Development Fund has allowed us to explore the topic more and to be more open about exploring the question of power in our organisation.
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”.
Cyril Ramaphosa will have to explain on Thursday how the state will give effect to majority party January 8 statement commitments in the light of a shrinking fiscus.
Gender-based violence made it into the January 8 statement of the majority party. And not just a mention – a relatively thorough and honest assessment of the state of women and girl children in South Africa, and in particular the unprecedented levels of abuse, violence and murder suffered by them. The president said “we must hang our heads in shame” at the state of gender-based violence and the patriarchal practices that give rise to it in the country.
Indeed. He also asked the men in the stadium to stand and make a commitment to end gender-based violence. Contrast this with no mention of gender-based violence at all in last year’s January 8 statement.
Our campaign advocates for the national rollout of sexual offences courts to such an extent that all rape survivors will eventually have access to a specialised court. We believe that these courts should first be established in areas with high rates of reported sexual offences, which is one of the issues that we advocate for in the regulations and our engagement with the Department of Justice.
In practise however, many people who work at Rape Crisis are confronted daily with the realities of violence against women and children in South Africa, and are finding it increasingly difficult to relate to the true meaning of Women’s Day because of how much progress we still have to make in fighting for our rights.
On the 1 August 2018 many women across South Africa took to the streets as part of the #TotalShutdown demonstrations. This started as a small, diverse group of women who decided ‘enough is enough’ and brought women to the streets to make a statement about the impunity against human rights violations especially in this case, the lack of justice for gender-based violence in this country.