Fedusa gives government ultimatum: End gender-based violence or face mass action
Cape Town - Government needs to urgently take steps to end gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, particularly during the Covid-19)lockdown, or face mass action, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said on Sunday.
According to Statistics South Africa, nearly 3000 women were murdered in the 2017/18 review period, many by family, friends, or men that were close to them, Fedusa said in a statement on Sunday.
Many of these women were not just murdered, but also suffered traumatic and torturous deaths, experiencing rape, mutilation, and terror. The fear of this horrifying fate had become a reality for every woman in South Africa.
"The Federation of Unions of South Africa is horrified by the ongoing scourge of gender-based violence and the slow response, and general inaction of our government," Fedusa general secretary Riefdah Ajam said in the statement.
"While government is regularly committing to fight this scourge, it has still not ratified the [International Labour Organisation] convention on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work C190/R206.
"This should be the minimum, the most basic act that our government can do. If government is incapable of agreeing to an international treaty that seeks to protect women and vulnerable groups from violence, how can they begin to fight back against the ongoing violence inside the country?
"Over the last week we have heard countless stories of women living in fear. Waiting at a bus stop and being harassed by drivers passing by. Going to the mall and being inappropriately touched or spoken to, and if they dare to respond, fearing that the man might respond by raping and killing them. Being trapped with an abusive partner in [the Covid-19] lockdown. Trying to report violence at a police station and being laughed off," Ajam said.
Fedusa said enough was enough, as this was a crisis that had gripped the nation for decades and had to be recognised and combatted as such.
The union said government needed to fast track the ratification and implementation of C190/R206 and then proceed to implement further massive female empowerment, education, and protection programmes to bring femicide in South Africa to an end.
"Government should immediately emulate the example that had been set by Uruguay and Fiji, which has become the first ILO member countries in the world to ratify C190 and should also impose harsh penalties on all those found guilty of breaching the new law, "because the time for talk and promises is gone”, she said.
“We will no longer accept the inaction. If government does not move to immediately ratify C190/R206, and then follow with mass funding and resources for programmes to end this violence, we will have no choice but to pursue mass action. There comes a point where inaction becomes complicity, and we refuse to be complicit in the mass murder of our sisters, mothers, and daughters," Ajam said.
African News Agency/ANA