Media urged to raise awareness on impact of GBV in SADC
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are inadequate national laws, inadequate national frameworks and inadequate gender-disaggregated statistics, as well as outdated laws.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
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