Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

To end our Women's Month #WeRemember campaign, which honoured the victims of gender-based violence, we asked experts and activists how they think South Africa can bring an end to this scourge. Here is a summary of The Total Shutdown's demands to government contained in the memorandum handed to the president at the Union Buildings on August 1: 

1. A commitment never to appoint any individual who has been implicated or minimises the causes and consequences of GBVAW to Cabinet or to lead a state institution and a commitment to announce the dates of a national gender summit.

2. A review of past national action plans to end GBVAW with a view to understanding why they failed and that the Ministry of Women in the Presidency be tasked with managing the review. 

3. The development of criteria and screening for appointing individuals who are tasked with leading efforts to end and respond to GBVAW. 

4. The development of a National Action Plan on gender-based violence whose terms of reference will be determined by the review process envisaged under demand number two. 

5. The resuscitation of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women, and that a prerequisite for committee membership is a proven track record on working on GBVAW and gender diversity issues.

6. The establishment of accountability and oversight mechanisms to ensure that an adopted National Action Plan is implemented. 

7. Focusing on the prevention of re-victimization and re-traumatisation through the establishment of a well resourced national hotline that will enable survivors to request and receive information on support services. 

8. The provision of prevention services and information on GBVAW with a view to raising awareness on the different forms of GBVAW, preventing violence and changing attitudes.

9. Training to provide legislators with information on the key features of drafting legislation to develop laws aimed at combating GBVAW and promoting gender diversity and equality. 

10. Consistent sentencing and enforcement of existing laws, in particular, the minimum sentencing legislation in sexual and domestic violence cases and that the judiciary stops using harmful and negative gender stereotypes.

11. The prioritisation of the provision of legal aid to victims of GBVAW including those who want to hold the state accountable for its failure to protect them from violence and those who have been subjected to lawsuits for publicly naming perpetrators.

12. Sensitisation and adequate training regarding diverse gender identities and LGBTQIA_ minorities for members of the judiciary and their resource providers. 

13. The provision of psycho-social support, or funding for such support, to victims and survivors of GBVAW including a publication of a referral list of the places where the service will be provided. 

14. A commitment to beginning a process to develop a comprehensive law on addressing GBVAW. This includes engaging the South African Law Reform Commission to begin a consultation process. 

15. Recognition that intersecting forms of oppression heightens women’s vulnerability to GBVAW and that these factors are taken into account during the investigation, prosecution and sentencing. 

16. That the existing Thuthuzela Care Centres’ resources be developed and vacant posts filled and that the centres be established as places of safety and care for all gender identities who are survivors of GBV.

17. The introduction of an automated national registry for protection orders. 

18. Provision of gender inclusive shelters and interim housing to enable womxn to escape abusive relationships and a list of those shelters to be confidentially shared with relevant service providers. 

19. Registration of GBVAW cases in hospitals and the provision of information on support services available to survivors of GBVAW, as well as ensuring that an effective referral mechanism is put in place. 

20. Publication of a monthly list of police stations and police officers who have been reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for failing to provide services to survivors of GBVAW.

21. Adoption of a policy to make prosecutor-led investigations of GBVAW cases compulsory in order to provide guidance and assist in the gathering of evidence in order to ensure that cases are taken to court.

22. Publication of a national training schedule on GBVAW and gender diversity for all relevant government departments including home affairs,  social development, justice, safety and security and health.

23. A sustained media campaign for 365 days by all departments led by Government Communication and Information System providing information including awareness.

24. Government should ensure that laws, policies, practices and systems are sensitive to gender diversity to protect the bodily and physical as well as the psychological and emotional integrity of transgender and GNC people from GBV. 

* Each of the 24 demands was assigned a deadline, some of which have already passed without being met.