LHR on announcement that there is no money for state plan on violence against women

Date: 03/09/2019

On Monday, 2 September, the South African government on Twitter called on women to “speak out”, and “not allow themselves to become victims by keeping quiet”. Yet the following day, MPs were told by the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities that it has no budget to implement the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence and Femicide. The plan is one of the key outcomes of the 2018 Gender Based Violence Summit.

These circumstances illustrate why violence against women remains rampant in our country: responsibility for avoiding the violence continues to be laid at women’s feet, while government appears to develop plans it cannot implement.

As the country mourns the death of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Lawyers for Human Rights notes with deep dismay the ongoing heinous violence against women in South Africa. The recent media reports on the kidnapping, rape, and murder of several young women and girls in the Western Cape are horrific, yet sadly represent but a small portion of the daily suffering of thousands of women and girls. This violence continues unabated, nearly a year after the government’s Gender Based Violence Summit.

“Our government knows what needs to be done to combat sexual and other violence against women and children – there are countless, evidence-based recommendations made by specialised organisations in civil society. There appears little political will to ensure that the proper financial and other resources are allocated to the task,” said Sanja Bornman of the LHR Gender Equality Programme. “How can our government expect women to report violence to an under-resourced justice system that traumatises them further, and fails to convict perpetrators?”

“If you want to know what government really prioritises, look at budget allocations,” she continues. “South Africa is home to international models of good practice, such as one-stop Thuthuzela Care Centres, where victims have access to multiple services in one place. But even in a time when government claims to prioritise violence against women and children, these centres are struggling to keep their doors open. The same can be said for women’s shelters, rape kits, specialised sexual offences courts, and now also the so-called National Strategic Plan.”

The South African government’s stated horror at the abuse of women and children must be backed up by necessary budgets.  Otherwise, laws, policies, and plans are not worth the paper on which they are written.

LHR will be participating in, and supporting protest action this week, denouncing all forms of violence against women.  The organisation’s Gender Equality Programme remains dedicated to eradicating gender based violence, discrimination, and inequality through legal interventions and advocacy work.


For queries:

Sanja Bornman

Programme Manager: Gender Equality Programme

Lawyers for Human Rights

+27 83 522 2933

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