Address by Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women Ms Susan Shabangu on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, on the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Missionvale Campus Port Elizabeth.
25 November 2017

The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle
MECs
The Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Cllr Athol Trollip
Nelson Mandela University Vice Chancellor and Members of the University Council and Executive Management present
Your Majesties, Kings and Queen of Eastern Cape Province
Fellow South Africans,
Molweni!
We meet once again to take stock and launch the 2017 sixteen Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

This event is a culmination of our daily efforts as South Africans to make this a yearlong campaign in line with the pledge we made at Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, in 2014.
We made that pledge to engage in a  yearlong campaign because we realised that violence against women and children did not seem to be abating.
Today is the launch of the intensive focus on the challenge for sixteen days, and to strengthen partnerships between government and society in taking the struggle forward.

The 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children is based on the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, today. The campaign ends on International Human Rights Day, which is December 10.
The 16 days of activism period also incorporates another important international day, World Aids Day on 01 December.
We are marking this campaign under the theme: “Count Me In: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward”.
This year we celebrated the late Comrade Oliver Tambo, who led the ANC over many years, and we also reflect on him under the sub-theme: “OR Tambo and the emancipation of women.”

OR Tambo was a gender equality champion and a devout women’s rights advocate, who not only wanted equal opportunities for women, but hated all form of abuse which reduced women to sub-humans.
The United Nations Secretary-General also champions another campaign, which is called UNiTE to End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women, which has proclaimed every 25th of the month as “Orange Day” – a day to take action to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls.

Compatriots
This is a continuous campaign simply because the problem of violence against women and children continues in society almost every day.
This year we have witnessed the worst and most shocking incidents of violence against women and children.
The most brutal and barbaric acts were reported such as incidents where women were killed and their bodies were burned and also cases of cannibalism in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where body parts of women and children were eaten. We never thought we could hear of anything like that in our lifetimes.
Almost every day the media is full of reports of these kinds of abuses, both at home, work and other public spaces.
Schools, which used to be safe havens for our learners, have now become high risk areas for our girl children because of some unscrupulous teachers and caretakers,who abuse them sexually. Many boys have also become victims of sexual abuse.

Our streets and other public spaces have become unsafe for women and children, and have also become hunting grounds for human trafficking criminals and drug peddlers.

The crime of human trafficking needs to be highlighted more in country as it is a silent crime, where victims disappear without trace.

Some homes have ceased to be homely. Domestic violence has replaced all the warmth and love that used to define many households. Many women are beaten up by their partners or face many other forms of abuse, while children are also abused even by those close to them.

In some instances, women and girl children are still victim to oppressive cultural practices such as forced marriages.
Women and children are also victim to other non-violent but equally harmful forms of violations, such as abusive language and deprivation of necessary material support in their homes.
Beyond media reports, official statistics show that for the period April 2016 to September 2016, a total of sixty thousand domestic violence related cases were registered on the SAPS Crime Administration System.
The Department of Justice Annual Report 2016/17 indicates that close to four hundred thousand domestic violence complaints were registered.

From April 2016 to December 2016, there were thirty seven thousand reported cases of sexual offences. Out of these cases, eighty percent were rape cases. South Africa also records a high number of serial rape and serial murder cases.

This scourge is also costly financially.
Gender based violence is estimated to cost South Africa up to forty two billion rand per annum, as revealed by the SA Police Service statistics.
We cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by this scourge as society. We appreciate the fact that the whole country is aware of the need to continue to work hard to eradicate the fight against gender based violence.

Dialogues that have been held with many communities have indicated that our people want this violence to end, and they have provided many suggestions.

Government working with community organisations, religious leaders and traditional leaders including business continue to implement programmes aimed at fighting violence and abuse.

Government has declared violence against women and children a strategic crime-prevention and policing priority.
Several progressive and comprehensive laws, policies, support systems and institutional arrangements have been put in place to respond to violence against women such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act and legislation against human trafficking.
Our courts continue to hand out serious sentences to those who abuse or kill women, including life sentences, to the killers of women and children. The conviction rate in sexual offences matters reported for the 2016/17 financial year seventy two percent, or four thousand seven hundred and seventy nine convictions.

We applaud the criminal justice system for continuing to implement the laws of the land effectively to put perpetrators behind bars. We urge women not to keep quiet but to continue to report abusers to the police so that they can be brought to book.

The SA Police Service has adopted a six point plan which all police officers must abide by in every police station.

This plan entails the following;
•       All victims should be treated with respect, dignity and interviewed by a trained police official in a victim-sensitive manner;

•       Victims should be assisted in a Victim-Friendly Room  or an alternative room where the statement will be taken in private or other location providing victim support services;

•       Victims should be referred or taken for medical examination by the healthcare professional to obtain medical evidence and complete a medical report including seeing to the health of the victim;
•       The investigation should be conducted by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit or a detective with relevant training;


•       The families and victims of sexual offences should all be referred to victim support services that are available within the precinct for legal, medical, social and psychological help;

•       Victims should be proactively provided with feedback on the progress of their cases on a continuous basis.

Each police station is supposed to have these six points posted visibly at the police station and awareness, including a national instruction has been prepared in this regard.
Government reintroduced the Sexual Offences Courts in the country in 2013 and the first sexual offences court was launched in Butterworth, in the Eastern Cape during the same year.
To date there are sixty sexual offences courts with four in the Eastern Cape. These are located in Butterworth, East London here in Port Elizabeth and Tsolo.
In the past five years, Government also re-introduced the specialised Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units and there are now one hundred and seventy six of these attached to all police stations nationally.
The Victim Friendly Facilities rendering victim support services continue to be rolled out in police stations.
 Let us support the police in fighting abuse and violence in our communities.

Compatriots
Let me also congratulate the many community, civil society and parliamentary groupings that are making a difference and fighting against this scourge.
These groupings help us to promote awareness and the prevention of the scourge.
Parliament has also played its role. A successful Men’s Parliament was held last weekend in Cape Town coinciding with International Men’s Day.
We welcome efforts by men’s formations that participated in this forum, including Ubuhle Bamadoda, Show Me Your Number, What’s in Your Pocket, Not In My Name, our Father, Men on the Mountain, and Dad’s in the Picture.

Men are now talking about the problems of absent fathers, impact on families and the need to impart values. These campaigns will help nurture young boys to become better law-abiding citizens.

We are pleased to note their five-year “#No Excuse” campaign to change behaviours and work with over ten thousand taverns to prevent violence associated with alcohol abuse.
This campaign must continue to include both women and men, and women should not campaign alone to build safer communities and prevent violence against women and children.

With regard to partnerships, the business sector has taken a stand in supporting the fight against crime and violence against women and children and many companies have initiated workplace and public campaigns.
We also have continuous partnerships with faith-based organisations such as UmKhosi wa Madoda, the National Religious Leaders Forum, the Jewish Board of Deputies, including religious programmes on radio and television.

These are efforts to ensure that the message of no violence against women and children reach all sectors of society.

Research institutions have also done a lot of work and we are now looking at ways in which their work can help us in formulating our responses to the scourge of violence against women and children.

Within government, every province has a programme responding to Violence against Women and Children as part of the 16-Days Campaign.

Through these partnerships, we have raised awareness regarding the negative impact of gender-based violence and how to eradicate it.

More community members are able to identify abuse and have the confidence to report violations of their rights and dignity.
The unequal power relations between men and women and the lower economic status of women in society contributes to violence against women. In this regard, Government continues to promote the economic empowerment of women to ensure that they benefit from income generating opportunities and employment creation efforts.  The financial and economic independence of women will be a powerful prevention mechanism against gender based violence.
We would like further awareness campaigns to be undertaken about human trafficking because it is real and affects many in our country especially young women.

Everyone must be made aware of the various ways in which people are enticed, drugged and eventually trafficked out of the country for various nefarious purposes.

We commend the efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking, through the Human Trafficking week which was held in Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

Our national campaigns should also include abuse directed at persons with disability to raise awareness about crime risks for people with disabilities and provide support.

We also need to work together to fight the abuse and even murder of people with albinism who are killed for ritual purposes due to superstitious beliefs in some communities.

This crime is real and it is one of the most serious violations of human rights in some of our communities. People with albinism are human beings like of all us.
They must be treated with dignity and respect and also deserve protection by all members of society like everyone else.

Compatriots
We are going into the festive season during which substance abuse becomes more prevalent leading to the abuse of women and the neglect of children which also opens them up to abuse.

Communities must remain alert to abuse and violence against women and children during this period.

Our primary responsibility is to prevent abuse. Where it has occurred, let us provide support to the survivors and their families and work together to ensure that perpetrators are face the full might of the law.

Do not look away. We all have a responsibility to fight the abuse of women and children.

We thank you all for your contribution this year, and the campaign continues.

Let us work together, and make our country a safe haven for women and children.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to officially launch the 2017 Sixteen Days of Activism of no Violence Against Women and Children.

I thank you.