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Adoption of two bills to curb gender-based violence in SA welcomed

Civil society organisations have welcomed the adoption of two pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening laws fighting gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Civil society organisations have welcomed the adoption of two pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening laws fighting gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Published May 31, 2021

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Cape Town - Civil society organisations have welcomed the adoption of two pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening laws fighting gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill were adopted over the weekend by Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.

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Anti-GBV group Ilitha Labantu’s spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali, said the legislation would help enforce the law, and that it would help GBVF survivors to receive the justice they deserved.

Monakali said laws in themselves were not going to fight or end the scourge of GBV. Other urgent matters needed to accompany the laws, which would require relevant stakeholders, including the justice system, to go out into communities to implement measures or programmes that would help educate to prevent the scourge of GBVF.

“We also want to see the strengthening of other measures, such as when GBVF victims and survivors go to the police stations, they are received well. In the couple of months, we have seen rape victims turned away at the Khayelitsha police station,” said Monakali.

Zintle Khobeni, chairperson of organisation The Great People of SA, said what truly mattered the most about the developing and signing into laws into effect was effective implementation and monitoring.

Khobeni said the department must live up to its promises to the people of the country and, more importantly, its constitutional obligation to protect and promote human rights.

She said if the department could assure that the amendment of the acts would yield fruitful results, compared to what they were currently witnessing in the justice system, which is in disarray with GBV cases or backlogs.

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“What is also more needed is a public engagement about the possible amendment of section 11 of our constitution. The recent conviction of yet another brazen serial rapist proves that this country ought to consider capital punishment, particularly for crimes proven beyond reasonable doubts,” said Khobeni.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe, said levels of GBVF in the country were among the highest in the world, and were acknowledged as a second pandemic.

He said the bill aimed to expand the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) to include the particulars of sex offenders and not only sex offenders against children and persons who were mentally disabled.

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He said it also aimed to expand the list of persons who were to be protected to include other vulnerable persons, namely, certain young women; persons with physical, mental, sensory or intellectual disabilities; and persons over 60 years of age who, for example, receive community-based care and support services; and increase the periods for which a sex offender’s particulars must remain on the NRSO before they could be removed from the register.

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Cape Argus

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