Political will urgently needed to address GBVF in South Africa

While the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the initiative by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to introduce special desks at every police station in the country to deal with cases of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), more needs to be done to rub this stain from our society.

That is why the DA is calling for an urgent joint meeting of the Portfolio Committees on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities; Social Development; Health; Justice and Correctional Services; Basic Education; Higher Education, Science and Technology; and Police; and the Select Committees on Health; Social Service; Security and Justice; and the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus to discuss and review the various forms of intervention that have been suggested.

A joint meeting has not been held since the previous meeting was cancelled in November last year due to a problem with documentation.

To curb GBV there needs to be a concerted, holistic effort from all the role players in government. The solution cannot only be to act against perpetrators once the despicable deed has been done. The problem needs to be attacked from all angles if South African womxn are ever to feel safe in this society and at home.

The sensitization training that SAPS has promised for all its officers is a step in the right direction, and similar training should be implemented for all role players from social workers to prosecutors. There is still a tendency to blame the victims of GBV, or not take their accounts seriously. We need to realise that only acting once they are dead, is a severe failure of a dysfunctional system.

The fact that only 3% of GBV cases resulted in conviction during the Covid-19 lockdown period serves as an indictment against the judicial system.

If government is truly serious in its endeavours, substantial budget provisions would have to made to all relevant Departments to fight GBV.

While there is much work that needs to done on provincial levels, the political will to truly address and eradicate the problem must come from the President and his Ministers.