GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Case 4 #NotOurLeaders – Political parties don’t suspend members charged with rape against children

#NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Press Release

 

POLITICAL PARTIES DON’T SUSPEND MEMBERS CHARGED WITH SEXUAL OFFENCES – EVEN WHEN CHARGED WITH RAPE AGAINST CHILDREN

CASE 4: Unnamed ANC Councillor, JS Moroka Municipality

In May of this year an unnamed ANC councillor was accused of raping a 16-year old girl. He was released on bail of R5 000 by the Mdutjana Magistrate’s Court in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga and the next court date set for 23 June. Rather than suspending the councillor, the ANC in the Nkangala region chose to place him on special leave pending the outcome of the case. Spokesperson Sello Matshoga indicated that the councillor would only have been suspended if the state had succeeded in opposing bail and presented evidence in court of a strong case. No further information about the progress of this case is available.

ANC is inconsistent in its approach

“The ANC is inconsistent in its stance towards members who are accused of sexual offences,” said Lisa Vetten, a gender violence specialist. “On Monday 27 #NotOurLeaders highlighted the case of Winterveldt councillor Sipho Maselane who is appearing in the Ga-Rankuwa magistrates court today (30 November) on multiple counts of rape and robbery. He has neither been suspended, nor placed on ‘special leave.’ We’ve also highlighted how the ANC acted against Marius Fransman even though the criminal investigation had not been concluded,” she said.

Another very recent example is Simon Mofokeng, the mayor of Emfuleni who distributed pictures of a semi-nude 14-year old girl to other ANC leaders via WhatsApp in October of this year. Although Mofokeng has not been formally charged with a criminal offence yet, he was placed on ‘special leave’ on 30 October and an internal investigation launched into the matter. Although Mofokeng resigned on 20 November he is not necessarily off the hook, as the ANC is reported to be still considering further disciplinary action against him.

Reluctance to suspend party members accused of sexual offences is evident across parties

The ANC is not the only party to take the path of least resistance when confronted by party members charged with sexual offences.

“On Tuesday #NotOurLeaders highlighted the case of a deputy mayor, Mncedisi Maphisa, who has been charged with sexual assault. He has not been suspended or placed on special leave by the IFP. In yet another example a DA councillor from Clanwilliam in the Western Cape was accused in March of sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl and arrested. The DA also said they would not suspend him until the criminal case has been concluded. They’ve since been able to duck the issue as the councillor had not paid his membership fees and is therefore no longer a member of the DA,” said Sanja Bornman of Lawyers for Human Rights.

Avoiding internal disciplinary procedures while criminal cases are pending

“Criminal charges are serious. It’s unacceptable that parties claim – and only in some instances – that they must wait for the outcome of a criminal trial before they can act. This is a cop out. They are not powerless to act,” says Vivienne Mentor Lalu of the Women and Democracy Initiative. “Legally, there is no requirement to wait. In fact, political parties (like employers) should run internal processes as soon as they are aware of the allegations against their members regardless of the criminal justice process. That would show that they are serious about addressing sexual violence.”

The ANC must act

  • The #NotOurLeaders campaign calls on the ANC to provide further information on the progress of the case against the Mpumalanga councillor.
  • We also call on the ANC make clear its position on the processes to be followed when a member is accused of a sexual offence. A statement must be issued in this regard and every effort made to ensure that this policy is routinely and consistently applied.
  • #NotOurLeaders reiterates its call to immediately suspend Sipho Maselane and undertake an internal disciplinary investigation of his conduct. The national office should also investigate the Tshwane ANC’s handling of Maselane’s matter.

All parties must act

  • The #NotOurLeaders campaign challenges all parties to develop procedures for suspending political representatives accused of sexual offences.

 

For comment contact:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933

 

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

CRIMINAL CASES AND INTERNAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Criminal trials and disciplinary actions are separate processes, with different purposes and levels of proof needed. This is why withdrawal of charges, or an acquittal in a criminal court does not always mean an incident did not happen. It means that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it happened. The purpose of an internal disciplinary process, in most cases, is to maintain behavioural standards and create a safe working environment – which employers are required by law to do. The onus of proof is lower in internal disciplinary processes than it is in criminal trials. In these processes the case must be proved on a balance of probabilities – so they look at what is more probable. Internal disciplinary processes can and should run at the same time that a criminal trial is running. They also can and should be run, when the allegations constitute misconduct, even when there is no criminal case.

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GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Violent Politicians are #NotOurLeaders

LHRDOI

 

24 November 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

#NotOurLeaders Campaign launched by Women and Democracy Initiative, Lawyers for Human Rights and gender violence specialist during 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Tomorrow, 25 November, marks the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. Activities led by government emphasise the importance of taking action to end gender-based violence but do political parties walk the talk?

Mduduzi Manana has resigned from his position as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training and been convicted and sentenced for committing assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. But he is neither the first nor the only political representative to behave violently towards women. During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights, and gender violence specialist Lisa Vetten turn the spotlight on political representatives and the protectors and keepers who enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. Each day the group will release the name and facts of a different case of a leader embroiled in sexual abuse charges. The aim is to reflect both on the incidents themselves, as well as the responses of the political parties to which these men belong, their actions proving a litmus test of their true commitment to addressing sexual violence.

South Africa’s political representatives are the guardians of the Constitution and rights it contains, including the right to gender equality and the right to be free from all forms of violence, whether from public or private sources. It is their responsibility to develop laws that advance these rights, hold government departments to account for their (in)action in this regard, and approve budgets that make these rights realities. But political representatives’ ability to improve women and men’s lives is compromised when they appoint abusive men to positions of power.

“Political parties that appoint these men, then fail to act against them, or protect them, are hypocritical. Over the next 16 days, we will hear a lot of public condemnation of violence against women and children from various leaders, but this campaign turns the focus on what politicians and parties actually do, not what they say,” said Sanja Bornman of the Lawyers for Human Rights’ Gender Equality programme. Parties undermine efforts to address gendered forms of violence when they fail to develop systems and procedures addressing sexual violence, or fail to put their policies and procedures into effect. They also hamper South Africa’s efforts to meet Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Target 5.5 of this goal is to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” Yet women’s political participation and representation is undermined in environments where sexual violence and abuse go unchecked.

Says Lisa Vetten: “These problems are not new and if they are allowed to persist there is a risk they will become permanent features of our political landscape. As the country currently debates the quality of its political representatives this dimension of their conduct should not be overlooked.”

The individuals we will be focusing on are #NotOurLeaders and we demand that political structures act decisively and urgently to tackle the problems we will be highlighting during the 16 Days.

For queries:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
CURRENT AFFAIRS

Zuma Spear -as big a dick as we thought?

Chelsea Harvey
Chelsea Harvey

By Chelsea Harvey

After recently hearing President Zumas comments against political satirist Zapiro, this time for drawing our president as a penis, I have to take a step back and wonder exactly what this says about our president.

Let me first give a little bit of background as to why this cartoon was created. After the artist Brett Murray displayed his painting of president Zuma with his genitals exposed in the Goodman gallery, Mr. Zuma sued the gallery and insisted that the painting be taken down. Later on the painting was defaced, and much uproar was caused in our country around the entire saga. Zapiros cartoon is centered on this issue, and depicts our president as a penis, looking at himself in a mirror in the Goodman gallery.

Once again, Zuma and the ANC insisted on a withdrawal of the cartoon from Zapiro, as this was, like Brett Murrays “spear”, considered an insult to Zumas human dignity. “The Spear” was going to be raised as a topic during the social cohesion summit. (For further reading on the ANC and Zumas reaction to the cartoon click here)

After this whole saga around the Presidents exposed genitals, I start to wonder if this can really be called an insult to his human dignity. I agree that the painting does not exactly depict our president in the most flattering light, but I honestly think that our country seems to have lost perspective on exactly what human dignity is, and the difference between a political commentary and a flat out violation.

As far as I’m concerned, in regards to human dignity, sexual violence and assault hold far more weight than a painting of you with your genitals exposed, President Zuma.

We live in a day and age where rape and sexual abuse run rampant and are frequently on the rise and making headlines nationwide, particularly against women. I think that it’s truly sad when our own president can claim to feel that a painting of him with his genitals exposed as well as Zapiros frequent depictions of him with a shower head, as well as his latest picture, can think of this as a violation of his human dignity.

Has he thought of the dignity of those thousands of rape survivors? Of women subjected to abuse and violence from men? Or what about the mentally disabled girl, who was gang raped and the video, went viral? When has our president, for that matter, ever really done anything to address the rape crisis that is on the rise in our country?

It’s even estimated that women born in our country are more likely to experience rape than learn how to read. We hear frequently of gang rapes, sexual assault and abuse, and yet where are the ANC marching against that? Where was the president’s outcry to have the viral video removed from the internet?

Somehow, we seem to have lost perspective on what exactly human dignity is, and who should really be having that clause of the constitution rubbed in their face. Sexual violence continues to spike, occurs every day; with more and more women living with the constant fear of falling prey to a sexual predator. More and more girls (and boys) are raped and violated before even reaching puberty.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of child and baby rape in the world, but for our president and government, it’s more important for Zuma to be depicted as a hero and to have his dick portrayed in his pants. (For more statistics on rape, read here)

Maybe he should look at the history of Brett Murray’s art career before he dubs him a racist, as well as look at his own political career and personal life before he decides to start lawsuits against artists and cartoonists who are only using art to comment upon his career.

Maybe if he took notice of women’s rights, and started to voice outrage on the violations that have happened against them, his penis would be far less depicted in the media.

BOOKS

Why I won’t be reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Tammy Sutherns
Tammy Sutherns

By Tammy Sutherns

Firstly, I have to admit that I read 49 pages of the second book in this “erotic” trilogy – Fifty Shades Darker – so I have at least given it a shot and am not basing the below on hear-say. The second book was more available to me than the first so I thought I’d give the first few chapters a whirl to see if I might be interested in actually reading the series and picking myself up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I can satisfactorily conclude that I will not be and more so, that I’m utterly shocked that this is a best seller.

I’m not even going to use the poor quality of writing and the insult that it is to the literary world as my argument in this case. However these factors are noteworthy and deserve mention. If you’re into reading about sex, there are thousands of books out there that are just as erotic, but at least include some skill when it comes to the actual writing style. If you don’t care about the literary merit then you can pick yourself up a copy of any old Mills and Boon rag and be none the wiser. The point here is that not only is not revolutionary in its graphic and detailed sex scenes, but it’s not even a good book?

But the reason why Fifty Shades of Grey is so problematic is that it has completely sexed up an abusive relationship. It’s the most typical Psychology 101 form of abuse – man is abused as a child, man does not overcome or cope with the violence inflicted on him, man repeats cycle. It doesn’t matter what “electricity” they feel between them or how madly in love our delightfully one-dimensional protagonist is, he dominates – in more ways than one – her to such an extent that she is intimidated, abused, controlled and overpowered. Just because he is honest about his “darker side” and the joy he feels in inflicting pain on her doesn’t make it any less so.

What is more alarming is that the sex scenes, designed to be erotic, blend into the abusive and violent scenes. One minute they are flirting and the next the poor girl is absolutely terrified of him. This is exactly what the problem was with Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. The reader goes from feeling sexually turned-on by a scene to suddenly disgusted by the gruesome and violent turn the narrative takes. The positive connotations of being turned on and feeling good during a sex scene should never bleed into violence, domination and abuse. It brings about completely conflicting desires and emotions and merges them into one, leaving the reader feeling rather confused at their own reactions. American Psycho displayed this far more starkly and while a great social dig at American consumerism, readers didn’t need the chapters and chapters and chapters to get the point.

I honestly believe that BDSM relationships, where there is a dominant and a subservient, can be played out far more safely and without those involved maintaining these roles in every aspect of their relationship. Fifty Shades of Grey is an example of how a woman can be crushed into subservience in every sphere of a relationship. The fact that there are some kinky scenes and some good, old healthy, liberating sex shouldn’t shadow this.

Perhaps I’ve completely missed the point and I’m very, very open to correction. All I could think when I read those pages was how glaringly obvious it was that an older and established man had completely captivated a much younger, shier woman and dominated her in every aspect – from the things she eats to the people she is friends with to the way that they have sex. To me it seems about much, much more than BDSM and yet we’re celebrating it? Or perhaps the author is trying to tell that exact story – where boundaries can get blurred – and it is the public that has missed the underlying message? I do doubt it though – I sneaked a look at the first few pages of the last book in the trilogy and it seems as though our protagonist marries the guy so I’m not so sure about this theory. Hey, but while we’re normalizing abusive relationships, Ana is such a good subservient, letting Christian order her food for her and dictating when she leaves a friend’s party even though E.L James has made it clear she doesn’t want to. Is it just me that finds this vomit-worthy?

In any case, I look forward to reading what others have to say on the topic.

 

EDITORIALS, EDUCATION, Uncategorized

Editorial: What hopes for the youth in SA?

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

June 2012

It’s not easy to be young in SA.

I started the month of June by reading this article about the number of girls falling pregnant in Grade 3. As in, at nine years old. When they are 27, their daughters and sons will be in matric. There is nothing in the article about the fathers of these children, other than to suggest that they are rapists. Sex with someone under the age of 15 is always rape. What about paternal parental responsibilities when the child is conceived with another classmate? How can children of 9 years old raise a child?

These are the young women we want to lead South Africa one day. Many of them are being educated outside of classrooms, because of a lack of teachers, a lack of government commitment and a lack of facilities. This should be of major concern to us.

Sexual violence flourishes in South African schools. This year we have seen the Soweto rape video, and many more instances of abuse against minors. There is no nationalised sex education curriculum, and the provincial ones that  I have seen do not have any lessons on sexual violence or rape.

Girls are absent from schools because they are menstruating. President Zuma promised to provide sanitary towels to young girls of school going age. I haven’t heard any more about whether this has been implemented. Girls leave school when they are pregnant – sometimes at the school’s request, sometimes because of peer pressure. There are next to no support structures for mothers in schools.

Girls will leave school, with a matric or not, and will face soaring unemployment rates. Some will live in areas of affluence, others in areas with a lack of service delivery. A lack of education limits the life choices of girls in their adult years.

We need to change this somehow. This month I think we need to start looking critically at our lack of activism as women relating to education. We can no longer afford to remain silent about the risks that girls face going to school, and the more significant risks that they face when they don’t get an education. If girls in South Africa are not educated, we will remain a patriarchal country, and perhaps it will get worse for women.

I’d love to hear your solutions, suggestions and hopes. We need to see our way out of this tunnel. Shine some light for us.

Jen Thorpe

Editor