CULTURE, Uncategorized

Weekly Feminist Round Up – 9 April, 2018

Passing of an icon

  • Winnie Madikizela Mandela, struggle icon, passes away at 81. Read Sisonke Msimang’s piece on reimagining Winnie here
  • Listen to Eusebius McKaiser’s review of the Life and Times of Mama Winnie here
  • Listen to Gugu Mhlungu discuss the impact of patriarchy on Winnie’s chance to be Deputy President here

Podcasts to check out

  • An activist filmmaker tackling patriarchy in Pakistan via the New Yorker here
  • Meg Wolitzer’s ‘The Female Persuasion’ Rides the Feminist Waves via the New Yorker here
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Reni Eddo-Lodge in Discussion at the Southbank Centre here

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Books

  • Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth – Get it at Exclusive Books, The Book Lounge, or online here
  • A list of the top 10 feminist non-fiction books to read this year here
  • 24 amazing new feminist books coming in 2018 here

Opportunities

  • Apply for a Young Feminist Media Fellowship here
  • AWID is looking for a Resource Mobilisation Manager here

Events

  • Haji Mohamed Dawjee launches her book ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ at the Book Lounge on Monday 9 April. RSVP here and at Love Books in Joburg on 11 April here
  • Feminism Is launches at Cavendish Exclusive Books on the 19th April at 6pm.

Support

  • Make a one-off or regular donation to Rape Crisis here

Send your suggestions for inclusions in this list to feministssa@gmail.com 

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Letter to the President about the appointment of Bathabile Dlamini as Minister of Women

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President Cyril Ramaphosa

The Presidency of South Africa

BY EMAIL: president@presidency.gov.za

AND TO: Acting Spokesperson Tyrone Seale

BY EMAIL: Tyrone.Seale@presidency.gov.za

 

2 March 2018

 

Dear Sir,

 

RE: RESPONSE TO THE APPOINTMENT OF MINISTER BATHABILE DLAMINI AS MINISTER FOR WOMEN IN THE PRESIDENCY

Firstly, we congratulate you on your appointment as the President of the ANC and President of the Republic of South Africa. We have noted with much interest the presentation of your State of the Nation Address and welcome the commitment you made to address corruption, in particular, for taking seriously the former Public Protector’s State Capture report, including considering engaging civil society through coordinated seminars and meetings.

The Shukumisa Coalition, the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign (RSJC) and the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC) are institutions that work hard to ensure that social justice and human rights are a reality for all people in South Africa. In particular, we work to ensure that women’s right to live free from violence, particularly sexual violence, is enjoyed by all people living in South Africa.

We hereby express our disappointment and concern at your appointment of Mrs Bathabile Dlamini as the Minster for Women in the Presidency.

Minister Dlamini is currently fighting a constitutional court order that seeks to hold her personally liable for costs related to the failure of the South African Social Service Agency (SASSA) to deliver social grants using a corruption free payment process. Since women are the main recipients of social grants in order to care for their children, as a result of this failure the poorest and most vulnerable are at risk. Her refusal to accept advice or obey court orders against the Department of Social Development show a lack of accountability that we believe she would take with into her new appointment. For this reason we believe that her appointment shows that you do not place value on holding your cabinet ministers accountable for their poor performance and that you do not value the role of women in society.

The Department of Women has a very important role to play in the Integrated Programme of Action to Address Violence Against Women and it is evident from her track record at the Department of Social Development that Minister Dlamini’s performance was not sufficient to ensure that this Action Plan was in fact implemented within the proposed time frame. She also did not consult with civil society. We believe that Mrs Dlamini’s appointment as Minister for Women in the Presidency will undo all the efforts made to address gender stereotypes and gender based violence, and that our government will not take sexual offences seriously going forward. This is despite you, Mr President, stating that violence against women is an epidemic.

We believe that the person mandated with leading the Department of Women needs to be an exemplary and visionary leader, and a gender rights activist who is open to working collaboratively and hearing the voices of many different stakeholders. She must stand firm in being accountable to those she claims to represent. The Minister for Women must have a solid grounding in issues pertaining to violence against women and must conduct herself in a manner that does not rationalise or exacerbate violence against women. There is no room for error in this regard.

In light of the above serious concern that the Presidency is very aware of we request that you reappoint a capable and qualified Minister to take the responsibilities of this office seriously in the best interest of the women, children and vulnerable groups as you commit to rebuilding the country and restoring the human dignity of people, which we believe you are capable of doing.

We look forward to your favourable response. In addition, we will also avail ourselves should you require more clarity or further details concerning issues we raised in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

The Shukumisa Coalition

The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign (RSJC)

The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC)

 

To get in touch with us, please contact the Shukumisa Coordinator, Aniela Batschari:

Tel. 021-447 1467

Cell. 082-546 4261

Email. shukumisacampaign@gmail.com

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Three things we need now to improve the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act

By Jen Thorpe

This year marks ten years since the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (The Sexual Offences Act) was passed. This legislation came about as a result of significant work from the Department of Justice and critical inputs from civil society. This partnership helped to shape the Act into something that was responsive to the needs of survivors, and had the potential to assist government in holding the perpetrators of sexual offences accountable. The Act requires that the police, the prosecutors and courts, and the health department work together to achieve this.

This is not a time for pats on the back

The most recent crime statistics would have us believe that certain sexual offences are decreasing, and that the conviction rate for sexual offences is high.

However, the reality is that many survivors of sexual offences never report to the police, and that the number of sexual offences cases that are prosecuted each year is decreasing. The current performance indicators for police on ‘decreasing the number of sexual offences’ create a perverse incentive for police to turn away sexual offences complainants when they report at a police station.

In addition, the specialised police units such as the Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offences Units, are not always provided with the financial or human resources they need to do their jobs well. The result is that there is a high attrition rate for cases at the investigation stage, and where cases are not investigated by specialist detectives the quality of investigation remains poor, preventing prosecutors from having much to work with if/ when the case reaches court.

Essentially, what the state’s figures tell us is that fewer survivors of sexual offences have faith in the police, and that fewer cases are investigated to a good enough quality that prosecutors are able to take them up and win a conviction.

This is not a time for pats on the back. This is a matter of serious concern, and misleading statistics that suggest that sexual offences in South Africa are being ‘dealt with’ or addressed in some way by the state are not helpful. In fact, the statistics that are reported change from one year to the next, making tracking the extent of the problems with the criminal justice system difficult to do.

Specialist interventions have been introduced

However, it is not as though no state action has taken place. The Thuthuzela Care Centres  (TCCs) (a one stop model including the police, health, and national prosecuting authority) and the Sexual Offences Courts (courts dedicated to hearing sexual offences cases, with specialist infrastructure, and specialist staff) are two important efforts that have been made by the state to address the problem of sexual offences. These are important interventions, because they increase the likelihood that survivors will get access to the support they need to help them stay in the criminal justice system until a prosecution occurs.

Yet, few of the TCCs or Sexual Offences Courts are operating at the minimum standards set by the state themselves. Section 55A of the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill has not been implemented.

Although the NPA and the DOJ provide glowing reports to Parliament, reports from civil society suggest that many of these facilities are operating at a skeleton stage, without meeting the requirements of specialist police, specialist prosecutors, forensic doctors, or the required infrastructure.

International funds run dry

The TCCS themselves are only partially funded by the state. At the moment they also receive international donor funding. At the same time, the NGO sector which provides critical psychosocial services to many survivors is facing dire funding cuts. International donors are shifting their focus to other matters, with the effect that NGOs are striving to assist survivors on a limited budget, with limited staff capacity. It is urgent that the state functions better for the survivors of sexual offences.

Renewed state action

We are facing a sexual offences crisis that is currently not being addressed effectively by the legislation we have available. Positively it seems, this has not been ignored by the Department of Justice, and steps are in place to address this.

Today and tomorrow, the Department of Justice  is hosting a National Forum on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Actin partnership with civil society. The forum will focus on three areas:

  • Reporting / investigation,
  • Medico-legal / services to the victim, and
  • Court processes / prosecution and the adjudication of sexual offences.

I am part of the Shukumisa Coalition, a coalition of organisations and individuals that hopes to see particular challenges addressed through resolutions at the Forum today and tomorrow. We hope to see:

  1. A resolution on the operationalisation of Section 55A of the Judicial Matters Amendment Act (around designating sexual offences courts) and the involvement of civil society in drafting the minimum standards and regulations around these courts.
  2. A resolution on the need for the public sharing of clear, consistent, and disaggregated statistics on sexual offences is essential.
  3. A resolution on revising perverse performance standards that reduce the likelihood that sexual offences are reported.

At the moment this forum seems like a positive opportunity for honest reflection. Hopefully it also delivers results.