Note to Editors: The following speech has been delivered in the North West Provincial Legislature today by DA Member of Provincial Legislature, Jacqueline Theologo.
Honourable Speaker, today I rise on behalf of the Democratic Alliance to join the plight of women and children afflicted by the scourge of abuse in its various forms.
The brutal reality of countless women in our country is encapsulated in this quote by award-winning author, Soraya Chemaly, and I quote, “Ask a man what his greatest fear is about serving jail time, and he will almost inevitably say he fears being raped. What can we deduce from the fact that jail is to men what life is to so many women?” (unquote)
Women are not safe on the streets where they live. Young children and women are being raped on their way to work, school and even in their own homes.
These violations have become commonplace and we have to ask ourselves when will we become angry about the escalating violence and tormenting fear that inform so much of women’s lives?
Speaker, women are not safe. The innocent blood of so many mothers, daughters and sisters are crying out in the midst of our silence.
The Crime Against Women in South Africa Report released by Statistics SA recently, indicates that femicide is five times higher than the global average.
In the face of these chilling statistics, Martin Luther King Jnr’s words ring true: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
South African women have voiced their fears, concerns, and anger in protests, marches, and memorial services across the country. To ignore the urgency of these calls would be an indictment on the National Government.
Speaker, the time has come for us to take decisive action against such acts of unspeakable justice. Not only do we need to ensure that those guilty suffer the full penalty, but also that we do not lose yet another woman at the hands of gender-based violence.
As a possible solution, the DA proposes that both the Domestic Violence Act and the Protection from Harassment Act be replaced with a single piece of legislation that is better suited to this challenge.
The DA plans to introduce a Gender-Based Violence Bill that will do just this.
The Bill will deal with applying for and enforcing protection orders from the court. It will also call for an online register of these domestic violence court orders so that this information can be accessed across different cities and towns.
This Bill will make it possible for us to increase our conviction rate for gender-based violence. It will be tabled before the end of the year.
We also have to recognise that there is no substitute for good police work. But in its current state, SAPS is often complicit.
We need to reform the police by professionalising them, by resourcing them and by training them. And we must place them under the control of provincial governments.
Speaker, during these 16 days of activism, let us remember the countless victims who succumbed to gender-based violence this year.
And, let us also remember that commemorating 16 days of activism once a year will not be enough to address this pandemic that invaded our society. For meaningful change, we need a 365-day approach to activism against gender-based violence.