The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) would like to invite you to a public dialogue on “Ending Violence Against Women in South Africa: Disruption and Innovation”, to be held at 17:30 on Monday, 23 April 2018, at 6 Spin Street in Cape Town.
The Honourable Delisile Ngwenya, Member of Parliament and Member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Ms Kwezilomso Mbandazayo, Programme Manager of Women’s Rights and Gender Justice at Oxfam South Africa, will be speaking at the meeting. Professor Floretta Boonzaier, of the University of Cape Town (UCT), will be chairing the panel and also addressing the gathering. (Please see the attached notification.)
We do hope that you will be able to join us for this dialogue, which is part of an ongoing series of public meetings hosted by CCR that have become a fixture on Cape Town’s political and social diary.
All are welcome and entry is free, though please RSVP for seating: email@example.com.
16 Days of Activism to end violence against women
For release: Late Wednesday 6 December 2017
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….?
CASE 10: Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, Free State representative to the National Council of Provinces and chair of the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs
In February 2015 Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, chair of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Select Committee in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was charged with assaulting his former girlfriend. According to a journalist who had access to the photographs, the woman’s injuries included a blue eye and bruising to most of her upper chest region, the upper part of one arm, as well as one thigh. Mohapi handed himself over to the police and was charged with assault, kidnapping and crimen injuria. The fate of the criminal case is unknown.
Parliament’s Ethics Committee reported on 16 March 2016 that the Mohapi matter was referred for further investigation to a subcommittee, with a hearing scheduled for April 2016. It is likely there were no meaningful consequences as Mohapi remains the chair of COGTA and is also a member of the Select Committees on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, along with Security and Justice.
Like Mduduzi Manana (#NotOurLeaders Case 9), Mohapi is a MP who experiences no disconnect between his public duties and private conduct. While Manana was leading dialogues on gender-based violence on university campuses at the time he assaulted three women, the Select Committee in the NCOP that Mohapi chairs was exercising parliamentary oversight of the Department for Women in both 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the year of parliament’s investigation into Mohapi’s conduct, the Select Committee dealt with reports from the Commission for Gender Equality too. (Neither body appeared before the Select Committee in 2017 though.)
“Right now there’s a great deal of emphasis on getting men to take up the problem of violence against women,” said the Women and Democracy Initiative’s Vivienne Mentor Lalu. “But appointing men to powerful political positions in order to champion matters of gender equality purely on the basis that they are men is naïve – even dangerous – when it is not accompanied by careful scrutiny of their conduct and history in this field.”
Forgetting violence in peri-urban and rural area?
Mohapi Jihad Mohapi’s case is not the only one to disappear quietly. These four rape cases reported between 2013 and 2016 have all disappeared equally quietly.
- Unnamed ANC Councillor, North West – Arrested after being accused of raping a 13-year old girl in March 2013. This may have been Benjamin Khoza of Moretele, who was reportedly suspended from the ANC subsequent to the criminal charges being laid against him. In 2015 the Sosh Times reported the case as still ongoing. No information on the case’s eventual outcome could be located.
- Unnamed ANC Councillor, Devland Gauteng – accused of raping his 10-year-old daughter in November 2013. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
- Unnamed DA Councillor, Buffalo City Metro, Eastern Cape – In February 2015 the media reported that the councilor had been arrested, but not yet charged with the rape of his former girlfriend. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
- Unnamed ANC member campaigning to be nominee in the 2016 local elections, Vryburg, North West – charged with the rape of a 14-year old girl. To its credit, the local branch of ANC Women’s League protested his actions vigorously, including outside court. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located. It is also unknown whether or not he went on to stand as a local councilor.
“What each of today’s cases have in common is their invisibility” said Lisa Vetten. She identifies this invisibility as occurring on at least two levels:
“The first has to do with the absence of violent images of these crimes. Mduduzi Manana’s violence, along with images of the women’s injuries, was broadcast across Twitter and beyond. These visuals playing a considerable role in provoking a public outcry over Manana’s conduct. But in Jihad Mohapi’s case, the photographic evidence of his violence remained within the confines the police docket. This surely contributed to the near non-existent response to his behavior, including by the general public.”
A second factor contributing to the invisibility of these cases, she said, is their perpetration by men based within provincial and local political structures: “Because they hold a relatively low-level, unglamorous status within the hierarchy of our democratic institutions, provincial and local structures and their staff attract far less public interest than their national counterparts.”
Vetten also highlights how
“A great many of these reports come from peri-urban and rural communities where social and traditional media almost never go and help is often absent. In these forgotten corners of our democracy, political position seems less open to critical scrutiny – so magnifying its power, which is further entrenched by networks of patronage and protection. Further, in small or rural areas, the municipality is often the biggest and most important employer. Speaking out in this context, where employment and promotion opportunities are limited, can present real risks to complainants.”
#NotOurLeaders calls for the following action
Our call today is very simple and directed at the media, as well as South Africa’s various public groupings:
- Report on and follow-up cases involving our political representatives and institutions. It is in the public interest to know what our power-holders do with their positions and authority.
- Treat all reports of sexual misconduct, abuse and violence with equal seriousness. A focus only on the high-profile, national figures should not overshadow the victimisation of women and girls by less-prominent individuals, in small, rural areas.
For comment contact:
- Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
- Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
- Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
For more cases from #NotOurLeaders click here
|RELATED MEDIA STORIES|
|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.
On September 14th 2017, Mduduzi Manana, former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, pleaded and was found guilty of three charges of assault. While he resigned from his post as Deputy Minister of Higher Education, he remains a Member of Parliament.
Manana still an MP, despite being a women abuser.
Prior to his guilty plea, On 24th August 2017, the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) submitted a complaint to the Acting Registrar of Members Interests in Parliament, and to the members of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests.
The Women’s Legal Centre submitted the complaint in terms of clause 10.2.2.2 of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests, which applies to all Members of Parliament. The Code outlines the minimum ethical standards of behaviour that can be expected from public representatives. It holds Members of Parliament to the values of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, openness, honesty, and leadership by example.
In terms of the Code, this complaint must be investigated by the Registrar and the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests. The WLC argued that by perpetrating an acts of violence against women Mr Manana has breached the Constitution, his oath of office, and the Code of Ethical Conduct. As Mr Manana is bound by the above obligations, so are the Members of the Joint Committee on Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests, and all the Members of the National Assembly.
In terms of the Code the National Assembly has the authority/power to decide on the appropriate sanction to be imposed on a Member of Parliament who has breached the Code. In these circumstances, the WLC were of the view that the appropriate sanction is the dismissal of Mr Manana as a Member of Parliament. The Committee will meet tomorrow, 1 November, to discuss this complaint.
Usually meetings of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests are closed, however this is not a requirement of the current rules of Parliament. In fact, it is up to the discretion of the committee. The WLC has thus asked that as this meeting is a matter of public interest, the meeting be held open. This request has been supported by Sonke Gender Justice.
Whether the meeting will be open or closed has not yet been announced.
Parliament a repeat offender in not addressing women abuse
Yet, this is not the first time that a Member of Parliament has been accused of violence against women. Thus far, Parliament has not issued a clear message against having violent abusers as Members of Parliament.
In 2015, the Sowetan reported that the Chairperson of the Select Committee tasked with dealing with women’s issues in the NCOP, Jihad Mohapi Mohapi, was responsible for beating an ex-girlfriend. Also in 2015, the DA confirmed that a charge of sexual harassment had been laid against a DA Deputy Shadow Minister, unnamed in the article, in Parliament for forcing a woman to touch his crotch during a protest. In 2013, charges were laid against then EFF spokesperson, now member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Patrick Sindane, for participating in the gang rape of a sex worker.
There has not been a statement on these abuses, and at least two of these men continue to occupy their positions.
Parliament’s resolutions on gender-based violence a mystery for South Africans
For many years, Parliament has held a women’s parliament, or a version thereof, each August. Each one of these events involves the making of resolutions about addressing gender-based violence.
Each year, a report is produced, but this report is not publicly available online, making tracking Parliament’s resolutions around gender-based violence impossible to do. To date, it’s not clear that any comment on violent Members of Parliament has ever been included in these reports.
The inner workings of Parliament are of course only known to those who work there. But from the outside, it’s not clear that Parliament is committed to holding Members accountable.
It’s not clear what decision Parliament will take tomorrow on Manana, but what is clear is that Parliament needs to do more to address a culture of silence surrounding violent MPs, and to make a clear statement on holding violent men accountable. Without this clear statement their annual 16 Days of Activism events will seem even hollower than usual.
Marion: The State of the Nation speech happened last week and despite a number of health challenges continuing to face South Africans, far less was said about this than would have been the ideal. In fact, more was said about the Rhino protection programme.
Within health the broad epidemics of HIV, Tuberculosis (TB), Violence against women (VAW) and substance abuse were noted and plans to remedy these through antiretroviral Treatment (ART) and TB treatment programmes, speaking out against VAW and tobacco control were proposed.
As I was digesting this input the face of a black woman with a bruised face surfaced repeatedly on my media platforms, following her expulsion from the House in the EFF scuffle. This disconnect was jarring.
In my area of focus (reproductive justice) women, and in particular black women, continue to bear the brunt of ill health in South Africa. We need leadership and the implementation of our good policies in order to truly transform the lives of women accessing reproductive health services. Schools need to provide comprehensive sexuality education and provide condom access (both female and male). We also need to continue Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination programmes to reduce the risk that women will contract cervical cancer late in life.
Women and girls need information about the range of contraception options available and to be able to have a conversation with a health provider and choose the method that is most suitable for them. Should contraception fail and a pregnancy takes place women should have access to HIV testing and also have access to a safe and legal abortion and not have to have to resort to an illegal provider. Maternal health programmes need to continue to welcome women and to provide them with good information about their pregnancy and planned delivery.
The Department of Health needs to strengthen it’s work on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the leadership needs to refrain from using misinformed language that suggests that women use abortion as a form of contraception. Commodities, supplies in relation to reproductive health from female condoms to IUCDS need to be strengthened. These suggestions are not new, our Department of Health has fabulous policies, but little leadership and stewardship to implement them.
Are Rhino’s more important than the health of women in South Africa?
Rebecca: There is good news and bad news.
The good news:
By the end of 2010, over 1 million people in South Africa had been initiated on ART (Republic of South Africa 2010). By 2013, this figure had escalated to 2 010 340 adults reported to be receiving ART in South Africa’s public health services (UNAIDS 2013: A86). The expansion in ART provision was testament to the efficacy of a broad-based alliance of healthcare workers, patients, activists, researchers, government officials, donors and other partners who continue to collaborate in the expansion and improvement of the national HIV response. South Africa’s ART programme has begun to reverse the precipitous decline in life expectancy, wrought by AIDS mortality, that came to characterise South African demography in the late 1990s. Due to the provision of ART, life expectancy in South Africa has increased by six years, and mortality among children and adults has declined by 43% and 20% respectively (Mayosi et al, 2012). By 2010, the life expectancy of patients initiating ART was around 80% of normal life expectancy (Johnson et al. 2013: 5).
The bad news:
The structural factors that increase vulnerability to HIV infection and transmission pose persistent challenges to the progress in South Africa’s health sector, and to the democratic transition more broadly. These factors are manifest in enablers of HIV infection, including unemployment, alcohol abuse and gender violence. While health and social interventions to diagnose, treat and manage HIV have provided some of the services necessary to address the needs of patients, the deep-seated determinants of risk and resilience towards HIV infection in South Africa have remained largely intact.
In South Africa’s struggle for public access to treatment, the attention of health care workers and activists was focused on initiating patients onto antiretroviral treatment. Now that South Africa has the world’s largest cohort of patients on antiretrovirals, we must confront the challenges posed by sustaining a massive public health intervention at a time in which resources for health are declining and there is donor fatigue for funding HIV treatment programmes (Mills et al., 2010).
The stigma surrounding HIV remains prohibitive, preventing the vast majority of HIV-positive people from disclosing their status openly and publicly. While antiretroviral treatment has saved the lives of many, recent studies have shown that, contrary to the expectations of public health specialists, the public provision of treatment has not alleviated HIV stigma in South Africa.
While the fight for public access to ART has won numerous gains for women, the primary focus on their health outcomes as mothers, and the related prioritisation by public health specialists, donors and activists of Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) initiatives, has shifted attention away from other reproductive health rights. Health interventions that have prioritised treatment for women as mothers has placed primary value on their reproductive capacity rather than their individual health outcomes (Eyakuze, Jones, Starrs & Sorkin, 2008, p. 33).
In spite of the requirement in many healthcare settings that HIV-positve women accept contraception as a pre-requisite for access to ART, social sanctions and individual factors compelling people to become parents continue to play a formative role in the reproductive choices of people with HIV. If the roll-out of ART is to continue to improve the health outcomes of women in Southern Africa, sexual and reproductive health must be repositioned at the centre of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
South Africa has among the highest rates of rape and sexual assault in the world, but research has shown that very few women report rape or seek healthcare services after being raped or assaulted.[i] Survivors of rape and sexual assault have the right to free medical advice and medications, as stated in the Sexual Offences Act (2007).
Jen: In terms of mentioning women specifically, the 2015 SONA limited itself to describing the fact that ‘some progress had been made in fighting crimes against women and children.’ Whilst that can be debated in other platforms, what is important to consider for women’s health is the very strong linkages between violence against women and HIV and sexually transmitted infection contraction.
In addition to what Rebecca describes above, the links between violence and HIV have been well documented by the World Health Organisation and can be summarised as follows:
- rape and sexual violence usually result in trauma to women’s genitalia, increasing the likelihood of contracting HIV and other viruses;
- sexual abuse in childhood has been linked to risky sexual behaviour in adulthood, increasing the chances that an individual will contract HIV;
- violence or fear of violence can reduce the likelihood that a woman feels safe or empowered to negotiate condom use;
- violence or fear of violence, in addition to societal stigma and the gendering of disease, can make it less likely for women to go for HIV and other STD testing; and
- violence can make it less likely for women to go for antenatal testing when pregnant, thus reducing the efficacy and reach of programmes designed to prevent mother to child transmission.
Sonke Gender Justice recently called for a National Strategic Plan on violence against women, and this is a call that bears serious consideration.
Another element that was left out of the State of the Nation was South Africa’s extremely high maternal mortality rate, and the fact that over the past years this has only reduced marginally. South Africa is far off from achieving the maternal mortality rate set by the Millennium Development Goals as made clear in Part 1 of this series. The leading causes of death were non-pregnancy related infection (most often HIV related illnesses) and high blood pressure. It seems essential then that the outreach of maternal health services should be widely expanded.
Our teen pregnancy rates also remain high. Early pregnancy has long term impacts on the lives of girls, and because of patriarchal gender norms continues to impact on girls education and life choices far more than it does on boys. In addition, the number of pregnancies that happen in school should be a serious concern as many of these are legally rape. Where healthy consensual sexual activity happens between adolescents, problems with the legislation around sexual offences have the impact of limiting adolescents access to sexual and reproductive health services, making it more likely that they will not seek treatment for sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. Possible amendments to this legislation are currently before the Portfolio Committee on Justice. This must be addressed as soon as possible.
The State of the Nation will never be the speech that will solve all women’s health problems. However, there was certainly more space available to address these significant challenges than was used.