Gender-Based Violence and Femicide can be curbed together

Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister, John Jeffery, says government has several legislative, criminal and law enforcement interventions in place to curb gender-based violence, femicide and sexual offences in South Africa.

Jeffery was speaking during the Justice Service Delivery Imbizo on Gender Based Violence, held at Delft in Cape Town, on Friday.

“These [interventions] include, amongst others, SAPS’…Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units. These units focus on sexual offences against children, person-directed crimes where the family is involved, illegal removal of children under the age of 12 and crime facilitated through the electronic media.

“From the side of the police, earlier this year the Minister of Police [Bheki Cele] said that dedicated GBV desks are now available at 381 police stations across the country and more than 91 000 police officers have been trained in Victim Empowerment, Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences related programs. This will ensure that a victim-centered service is provided by officers at police stations,” he said.

According to the Deputy Minister, there are at least 185 Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units in the police, including some nine Serial Electronic Crime Investigation units with detectives “focusing their efforts and expertise in investigating crimes against women and children”.

He said work done in the FCS units has contributed to at least 272 life sentences being imposed on perpetrators for crimes committed against women and children, since April last year to February this year.

The Deputy Minister said legislatively, the enactment of the Domestic Violence Amendment Act and Sexual Offences Act go a long way to making sure that perpetrators do not escape the long arm of the law.

“The enactment of legislation that protects victims of abuse and makes it more difficult for perpetrators to escape justice, is a major step forward in our efforts against this scourge and in placing the rights and needs of victims at the centre of our interventions.

“In addition to the new laws, we are currently working on a number of Pillar 3 interventions – meaning Pillar 3 of the NSP [Gender-Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan]. Some of these interventions include GBV Service Delivery Training and support to be provided to all service providers such as police, prosecutors, magistrates, intermediaries, court preparation officers, court clerks, health care providers and policy makers to strengthen victim-centric survivor-focused services and prevent any forms of secondary victimisation.

The Minister said with these interventions, government is doing its part but it can do more with the help of the public.

“We have to change the way we treat women in our homes and workplaces and how we raise our boys. Each one of us must teach our boys that they are because women are. It is necessary to challenge social attitudes, which make the rights and needs of women subject to the will of men.

“The rights of women to equality, to freedom and security need to be asserted and defended and all of us have a role to play here,” Jeffery said. –

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