Items filtered by date: Friday, 05 August 2022
A call has been made for all hands on deck to end Gender Based Violence (GBV), which has been described as is an endemic, multi-dimensional phenomenon with devastating effects on women, men, boys and girls in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Ms Habiba Roswana Osman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (HRC) made the call when she delivered a keynote address at a consultative meeting convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF). The virtual meeting sought to allow Human Rights Commissioners and Ombudspersons to consider a draft of a SADC Model Law on GBV being developed by the Forum in collaboration with other partners.
She said GBV continued to pose a threat to human security, peace and development as well as the attainment of national, regional and international development blueprints. She said GBV also results in drastic socio-economic consequences.
“It remains the most severe human rights violation in southern Africa with one in two women having experienced GBV at some point in their lives globally,” she said.
She noted that in the SADC region, some countries had higher instances of GBV than others and noted that COVID-19 had exacerbated the structural discrimination and inequalities faced by women and girls.
She said that there had been reports, also, of marital rape in some countries, while GBV had cost the government of South Africa at least 1.7 billion Rands.
“Globally, data continues to show that GBV remains a serious and pervasive problem across all sectors,” she said.
Stressing that no sector was immune to GBV, Ms Osman said the scourge was negatively affecting the Gross Domestic Product of some countries and damaging health, lives, financial independence, productivity and effectiveness.
She noted that SADC had adopted various frameworks to combat GBV in a coordinated manner. In this regard, she cited the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) and expressed optimism that the SADC Model Law on GBV would guide Member States in the domestication, ratification and implementation of relevant international and regional guidelines and obligations that inform GBV prevention and responses.
She encouraged all stakeholders to aggressively promote the Model Law on GBV to support human rights for all and to ensure that no one was left behind.
Speaking at the same occasion, popular Judge, the Honorable Professor Oagile Key Dingake, stressed that GBV denies people their fundamental rights.
“When we talk about rights, we are speaking about non-negotiable entitlements which are not dished to us at the mercy of the state. In actual fact, the state as the duty bearer is obliged to ensure that these rights are realised. GBV implicates so many of the different rights contained in our constitutions and laws in SADC countries,” he said.
Justice Dingake presented two related papers. One focused on GBV as a human rights issue, and the other provided an overview of gaps in the GBV legislation within the SADC region.
Said the judge: “The right to life and the right to dignity constitute – in my mind – the foundational basis of all other rights. All other rights must accrue from the foundational rights: the right to life, the right to human dignity, security of the person, autonomy and self-determination. GBV is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social or economic barrier. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of class. It is very prevalent among women and girls.” He expressed concern over the fact that in some parts of the SADC region, culture was used as an excuse or justification to oppress women and girls.
He stressed that certain cultural practices flew in the face of human rights, while certain roles assigned to women and girls restricted their options and curtailed their autonomy. The judge said GBV had many negative ripple effects on survivors. These include physical and psychological injuries.
He explained that while physical injuries were manifest, psychological injuries, which included depression and anxiety, eating disorders, stress and compulsive behaviour, were difficult to identify.
The judge expressed concern, also, over low levels of reporting GBV, as well as successful prosecution of offenders. He nevertheless expressed optimism that continuous education might socialise boys and girls in such a way that they would embrace the values of equality and human rights for a better world
The scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) mostly affects women and the girl child in southern Africa, with its multi-dimensional effects negatively also impacting on the lives of men and boys in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Globally, one in two women have experienced GBV at some point in their lives, while in South Africa, reports indicated that someone was raped every 25 seconds.
It is on the back of such empirical evidence that the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) of the SADC Parliamentary Forum tabled a motion during the 44th Plenary Assembly Session of the Forum in 2018 to develop a regional Model Law on Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The 44th Plenary Assembly unanimously adopted the motion in an attempt to remove threats to peace, security and the accomplishment of different developmental objectives.
Following the adoption of the motion, the SADC PF launched stakeholder consultations on 18 August 2021 targeting different players in the public and private sectors. They included human rights commissioners, traditional leaders, GBV survivors and different United Nations agencies, to name a few.
Speaking at the launch, the Chairperson of the RWPC, Honorable Anne-Marie Mbilambangu explained that the Model Law should be a tool used by SADC Member States to prevent and eradicate all forms of GBV.
She said that the RWPC would do everything “to improve social and economic conditions for women, because we think that they are the most affected by all forms of GBV.”
She added: “Our objective is to do it in such a way that everyone – in particular women within the region – regardless of colour or belief, have the possibility to accomplish their full potential without any hiccups or interference by GBV.”
South African Community Advocate Caroline Peters narrated her harrowing ordeal as a GBV survivor during the consultative meeting and bemoaned the fact that ever since she experienced GBV, very little had changed in terms of statistics.
“I am a survivor of brutal gang rape and my friend was murdered at the age of 16. When this happened to me, I didn’t realise this would be the
Seasoned journalist, gender practitioner and human rights activist Ms Pamela Dube from Botswana has called on media practitioners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to raise awareness on the impact of Gender-Based Violence in the SADC Region.
Dube was speaking during a virtual consultative session to familiarise the media on the SADC Model Law on Gender-Based Violence, convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) on 6 August 2021.
She said the media had a strategic and important potential to contribute to the prevention and elimination of GBV in the SADC region. “I wish to call on you to raise awareness on the impact of GBV in the SADC Region. Raise awareness on the role of the Model Law on GBV in the prevention of GBV and raise awareness on the stakeholder consultation process,” she said.
She challenged the media practitioners to support the implementation process. She compared the stigma suffered by GBV survivors to what families of those affected by AIDS had experienced in the past.
“At the highest point of HIV and AIDS, there was a lot of denial around our communities until we started seeing people coming forward. Once we saw the face and people could identify with the problem, stigma could be dealt with. We are faced with the same scourge right now which is at the homes, the offices and on the streets. Until we step to the plate and be able to give face to this and be able to speak to the heart of the problem, very little can be achieved,” Dube warned.
In addition, she urged the media workers to seriously ponder the role they wished to play toward GBV eradication and pointed out that while laws could be made, it was important for media practitioners and citizens to understand them.
“Laws can be made, our leadership can rise to the occasion, but if we are not in the forefront of giving information and disseminating, then very little, if anything will be achieved,” she said.
According to Dube, the SADC region faces different challenges in relation to GBV. High on that list are inadequate national laws, inadequate national frameworks and inadequate gender-disaggregated statistics, as well as outdated laws.
“It is against this background and in response to calls from various stakeholders to meet the goal of eliminating GBV by 2030, that the SADC PF commissioned the development of a Model Law on GBV that will be used to address, prevent and combat all forms of GBV,” she explained.
She underscored that GBV impedes efforts to achieve national, regional, continental and global development goals. GBV not only has terrible effects on survivors, but it also impacts negatively on society at large with serious socio- economic consequences.
“It raises enormous public health problems which are often overlooked. Survivors and victims of GBV are at high risk of severe and long-lasting health problems such as death from injuries or suicide, poor mental health, chronic pain, deafness, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and or AIDS,” she said.
While 13 SADC countries had laws on domestic violence and 14 on sexual assault, there was still evidence of GBV being most commonly perpetrated by “husbands or intimate partners” at global and regional levels. Moreover, Dube pointed out that COVID-19 had exacerbated the situation.
Speaking during the same event, Zimbabwean journalist Joseph Munda concurred with Dube and said: “It (GBV) is a key issue that has been going on and increasing with COVID-19 and there are a lot of dynamics around it.”
He, however, lamented challenges that journalists face and called for more information around good practices and some of the laws implemented by other SADC Member States. Munda felt that if information around effective laws was shared, it would make brainstorming for possible solutions to end GBVeasier.
“These are some of the key challenges that we have. Most of us are now working virtually and getting information can prove difficult at times. As a region, the information sharing itself and the learning process is very important for us journalists to be able to gather and disseminate information,” he noted.
Munda also stressed the lack of support structures to be able to get stories done, specifically due to a limitation of resources, which in turn shifts attention toward political and other stories.
Basadi Tamplin raised issues of strengthening cyber-security due to multiple instances that have seen a correlation between GBV and cyber-crimes. “Everyone has access to the internet and we all use internet to 24/7. There are alarming rates of
Welcome to SADC Scrutinizer, a new and special newsletter of the SADC Parliamentary Forum focusing on the development and implementation of model laws by our Forum.
Following a very progressive motion tabled by our Regional Women’s Parliamentary Forum (RWPC) in Maputo, Mozambique in 2018 and unanimously adopted by the 44th Plenary Assembly Session of our Forum, our Secretariat, under the capable leadership of our Secretary General, Ms. Boemo Sekgoma, hit the ground running and began the process of developing a SADC Model Law on Gender Based Violence (GBV).
This is a timely intervention given the frightening levels of GBV and Sexual GBV affecting many of our member states and other countries all over the world.
The Model Law on GBV comes at a time when, all over the world, there are increasing calls to prioritise support for women and girls who bear the brunt of GBV; comprehensively respond to online abuse; increase funding to girls’ education; end violence against women and girls; prioritise women and girls when responding to crises like the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic; place vulnerable and marginalised groups at the centre of programing as we move to strengthen democracy; and deepen and broaden sustainable development.
The many consultations held with various stakeholders to consider the draft of this Model Law on GBV provided a valuable opportunity for like-minded people and organisations to compare notes on strategies to end GBV.
Additionally, the consultations enabled Member States to showcase the amazing work that they are doing in their respective jurisdictions to respond to GBV as captured in this edition.
I am incredibly proud of all those who worked so hard to develop this regional soft law which many expect will go a long way in helping Member States develop or refine laws and policies related to GBV.
We are under no illusion that this Model Law on GBV will be a panacea to GBV. Nevertheless, we are convinced that it will go a long way in supporting Member States as they work towards removing barriers, bias, stereotypes, inequality and discrimination that continue to thwart a significant portion of our population, especially women and girls.
Beyond the development of this Model Law, we need to continue working together to ensure that all people have equal access to opportunities so that they can thrive.
As reported elsewhere in this edition, the COVID-19 global pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges. There is, therefore, need for affirmative efforts to bring everyone on board. Developing this Model Law and the many consultations that were held, have enabled us to pause and reflect on the extent, drivers and impact of GBV in our Member States.
The heart-rending reports of GBV in some of our Member States have emboldened us to double our efforts towards ending this embarrassing scourge. Indeed, we cannot develop our communities if we leave some of our compatriots behind. We need to join hands in ensuring that the rights of women and other members of our population do not get rolled back and to ensure that perpetrators of GBV, in all its forms, are held to account.
This requires all hands on board and we expect the media to be the arrowhead in breaking the conspiracy of silence on GBV. Indeed, our media in their various formations, have an obligation to amplify the voices of women and girls who bear the brunt of GBV as well as the voices of those working towards making a difference in the fight against GBV.
Allow me to end by once again commending and saluting all organisations and individuals that
joined and supported us in this gallant effort. This is your Model Law. Use it.