Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Gender violence: Government must focus on improving existing systems

The theme of today's Women's Parliament stands in stark contrast to the reality that women are experiencing. The biggest shortfall of the campaign to promote collective efforts to bring gender-based violence to an end is that true collective efforts do not really exist.

Legislation, like the Domestic Violence Bill, is indeed a step in the right direction, but all such efforts will be of no use if deliberate action is not taken to properly enforce the existing legislation.

The government must see to it that protection orders are issued and enforced and must give the people the assurance that police officers who are guilty of abuse and harassment will be charged.

The government could spend millions of rand on safe havens for battered women, employ many more social workers and create more legislation, but as long as it does not effectively execute basic legislation, like the issuing and enforcing of protection orders, the fight against gender-based violence will never be won.

Women are encouraged to obtain a protection order against their abusers precisely because it is supposed to offer protection in the form of police assistance.

In reality, these protection orders are not worth the paper that they are printed on. Protection orders are not being correctly administrated nor executed as is evident from the statistics:

• 5% of women who are murdered did obtain a protection order against their murderer;
• during the last year, 145 567 applications for protection orders were processed;
• interim orders were granted for only 87 750 of these applications; and
• only 50 656 are final orders and of these only 17% were served on abusers.

Thus, the government must prioritise improving the basic systems to prevent any further loss of lives.

During Parliament's question-and-answer time yesterday, the President took offence when it was stated that the council, which was appointed to address the problem of gender-based violence, is only paying lip service.

Its meetings are postponed on a regular basis and the presentations are often wrong. An entire year after the President made promises about addressing gender violence, no decisive action has been taken to bring relief to victims.




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