File picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
File picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Women's lives are viewed as a commodity: Sonke Gender Justice

By African News Agency Time of article published Jun 16, 2020

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Cape Town - The recent murders of several women around South Africa is a mere "snapshot of the ongoing state of emergency where lives of women are viewed as a cheap commodity", Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ) said.

"The brutal murders of Naledi Phangindawo, a 26-year-old mother of three, and Tshegofatso Pule, who was eight months pregnant, has forced us to relive the trauma of August 2019 when, in the space of a week, University of Cape Town (UCT) student Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing champion Leighandre ‘Baby Lee’ Jegels lost their lives at the hands of violent men," the organisation said.

"Tragically, these deaths are a snapshot of the ongoing state of emergency where lives of women are viewed as a cheap commodity. It has not even been a year since Uyinene’s death yet, despite the [Covid-19] lockdown, there seems to be no respite from gender-based violence for women."

It should be noted that these murders had occurred on the heels of President Cyril Ramaphosa receiving the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF), as well as the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) this May. 

This was a clear indicator to government that there was no room to delay in the implementation process, as perpetrators were in no way deterred, despite massive national protest action last year. 

The NSP was an answer to years of calls by activists for the government to make South Africa safe for all. Ramaphosa, in receiving the policy, acknowledged "South Africa is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman," the organisation said.

"It is great news that the implementation of the NSP adopts a multi-sectoral approach. We, therefore, hope this opens the discussion for tabling issues such as gun control in South Africa, where statistically, legally owned firearms are the main risk factor for the murder of intimate partners," SGJ said.

It was also time for the government to acknowledge and act on the causal nexus between alcohol and GBV through effective regulation of liquor licensing and the sale of alcohol, Sonke said. 

The NSP placed the onus on government to provide victim-centred and survivor-focused accessible services. For too long, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had borne the burden of providing support to victims of GBV through shelters and trauma centres with minimal support from the government.

This had limited the availability of psycho-social support for victims and survivors of GBV. "We hope that soon the assistance rendered as per the NSP shall include support to families such as those of Naledi and Tsegofatso who often tend to be forgotten," the organisation said.

"Naledi was hacked to death [allegedly] by her boyfriend outside her family home at a family function. Tshegofatso was last known to have gone to visit her boyfriend. These cases thrust the spotlight on intimate partner violence and the importance of addressing GBV prevention. One of the core outcomes of the NSP is to develop effective prevention and healing interventions that target institutions and households with a view to stopping the violence before it happens. 

"One can only hope that the NSP does not remain a brilliant document on paper but translates in its implementation such that cases like these shall no longer be a constant feature. We trust that our public representatives will take this opportunity to show leadership on a matter that is a national crisis," SGJ said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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