Groups reject establishment of board to set up Gender-Based Violence council
Pretoria - Civil society groups have rejected the establishment of a board of trustees to set up the National Council on Gender-Based Violence.
They also lashed out at the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities for the lack of funding for, and the slow pace in implementing the National Strategic Plan to curb the scourges of gender-based violence and femicide in the country.
The representatives of the various groups voiced their dissatisfaction during a round-table discussion with the department yesterday, held to discuss the processes under way to deal with the crisis.
It was also to provide a picture of the progress towards establishing a board of trustees that is to set up the National Council on Gender-Based Violence.
Chief director of governance, transformation, justice and security in the department, Esther Maluleke, outlined how resources still needed to be allocated to initiatives and programmes to deal with the crisis, due to the fact that at present most of what was being done on the ground was more reactive rather than proactive.
Another problem Maluleke identified was that the department had yet to implement any programmes to that effect. “We know that we don’t understand the magnitude of the problem as we don’t have a prevalent study, so often it’s hard to measure whether we are doing well or not," Maluleke said.
“The interim steering committee was clear, that we need to throw every resource into prevention if possible, so that we harness all the response to the crisis and address the structural drivers of gender-based violence.”
Anne Githuku-Shongwe, representative for the UN Women’s SA Multi-Country Office, said in their bid to assist the department, they established a collaborative platform to address violence against women.
Githuku-Shongwe said countries across the world had not done well in responding to violence against women, and as such created prevention collaboratives, which enabled multiple organisations to come together and start thinking on how to put actions together to make a difference.
She said the collaboratives were similar to knowledge centres, where parties were able to engage on a biweekly basis.
Civil society groups were unhappy with the discussion. Jeanne Bodenstein from Rape Crisis said: “We are concerned that civil society’s role in the implementation of the National Strategic Plan is not being funded.
“Not to mention that the National Development Agency has promised to distribute more than R80 million to organisations working against gender-based violence after a grant proposal process. However, there has been no transparency for the distribution process, and the organisations that have been allocated funding have not received it.”
Bodenstein added that they were further concerned that the five electric BMW cars which had been handed over by the German government to assist in the fight against gender-based violence had seemingly disappeared.
Sibongile Ndashe, a lawyer and human rights activist, said they were against the establishment of the board of trustees for a number of reasons.
Ndashe said as it stood, there were problems with chapter 5 of the plan, which set out the institutional and operational arrangements.
She said the chapter was meant to deal with closing accountability gaps and prevent shortcomings of the leadership. But, it currently did not have any specific details and a framework.
“When we say no it’s because what has been presented is an organogram without an accountability framework, co-ordination, and no budget allocated. So people are being asked to submit names for something that has no teeth," Ndashe said.
“It is a transitional structure, but there is no function in the terms of reference to the establishment of the council. In the absence of transitional work, who will ensure we get to where we want to go?”