GBV monitoring at your fingertips

By Lesego Makgatho Time of article published Sep 8, 2021

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When Omogolo Taunyane was a producer in the broadcasting industry, she found herself frustrated with the reportage on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) incidents in the country.

She realised that, much as there was a pattern of inconsistency in media reports about GBV incidents, she also discovered that the main focus was mostly in August and during the 16 Days of Activism (November-December). She then decided to not only complain about it, but made a pendulum swing to doing something about it.

“I realised it with the Tshegofatso Pule case. I was frustrated with how it was being covered. I felt I needed something, a monitor to keep track of the case. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but all I knew was that I wanted something more,” Taunyane said.

This idea then led her to develop a tracking monitor, the GBV Monitor SA, that would give a scope of reported cases. Launched recently, it is a tool for social change: it tracks related incidents across the country to highlight the plight of survivors, to deepen the national discourse pertaining to GBV, challenge societal paralysis in response to gendered violence, and contribute solutions that will have a lasting impact.

“We conduct research. We have a systemic evaluation of the rural criminal justice system. The most important feature of the work that we do, is that, we have developed a GBV tracker that exists online on our website. This enables us to trace and track GBV cases as a source of data collection.”

Taunyane said they use the media to help them populate the tracker.

“We also use information from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). If you look at the tracker, you’ll have the name and age of a survivor, the name of the perpetrator, you will see where this incident occurred, and you will see whether this has been reported at a police station.”

The monitor also shows whether an arrest has been made, and if it has, under what charge, and whether bail has been granted and the amount of the bail.

One of the features on the tracking monitor is information about how far the case is - whether it’s on trial, at which court and the judicial presiding officer.

“You’ll have the name of the magistrate or judge. The tracker gives you an idea of the granular details that we provide, which you won’t necessarily find anywhere else. It is not very often that you know the name of a judge presiding over a certain matter.

“The reason why that kind of information is important, is because it enables us to do research. We get a scope of the kind of cases that particular judge has presided over. We look at the trends we can pick up from the kind of verdicts issued by that judge... does the judge have a tendency of giving minimum sentences, or maximum sentences, etc. We look at the kind of information we can pull for research purposes,” she explained.

The monitor, which is set up as an accountability platform, is not only about the judiciary of this country, said Taunyane.

“It’s about government. It’s about us as communities. When you talk about rape or GBV stats, you are not just talking about numbers. You are talking about perpetrators who are known to people. We also want to focus on what happens in the criminal justice system. What we want to do is go back to the NPA and say, ‘These, are the trends and gaps that we are seeing. We see this high number of cases, but the conviction rate is low.’ So that is an indictment on the system,” she said.

She stressed that what the criminal justice system should put in place support programmes and systems for GBV victims.

“We look at which police stations don’t have rape kits (which is a common term used to refer to kits used to collect evidence from victims of sexual assault and rape) and we hold the government accountable to provide rape kits in our police stations.

“We want companies to react to sexual harassment in the workplace. We want them to look at what kind of support are they giving to their employees,” she said.

The online tracker shows reported cases and includes information such as the report date, the survivor, the accused, the incident location, the prosecution status, and the presiding officer. While it has not been developed as an App yet, users can visit the monitor at www.gbvmonitorsa.co.za/gbv-tracker.

To date, the online tracker has 84 entries.

Sunday Independent

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