We cannot and will not stop fighting for our mothers, sisters and children

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the debate on violence against women and children.
The atrocious abuse of women and children has been covered widely and deeply, with staggering statistics and anecdotes of untold brutality hogging headlines as the country tries to come to terms with this scourge.  Some cases have even secured slots in court rolls and perpetrators having their days in court.  This is showing that something is done, although it is way too late for the victims, most of whom lose their lives, and for families who have to pick up the pieces of their lives with the loss of their loved ones.
There are stories which never reach the media.  Stories whose impact on the lives of those close to these tragedies is unimaginable.  At the centre of these stories are women and children. Women because they lose their children and children because they lose their mothers.
During a march I attended in Temba, Hammanskraal, I came face to face with the picture of the trail of abuse.  On the programme was Doreen Khalo, a mother who lost her daughter in 2011.
Doreen had in her possession a worn out green plastic bag that contained the letter her daughter wrote before she died, a document with a case number and a letter from an authority absolving itself from the responsibility of bringing the perpetrator to book. The contents of this bag were not just ‘papers’, but they detailed a harrowing tale of a mother who had not only lost her child to senseless violence.
Doreen reached out to the police, but they failed her.  She reached out to the prosecuting authorities and again she was failed.  In her quest for justice, Doreen was failed by the very system that was meant to protect her, and indeed her daughter. She received no counselling, and was forced to bear the grief on her own.
The moment she started speaking, tears streamed down her face. She wanted to share her grief, anger and sadness with the marchers who had come to stand with her and others like her. Her pain and anguish permeated through the crowd and seemed to be as fresh as though she had lost her daughter yesterday.
Yet, in between the heart-wrenching sobs, Doreen’s strength and resilience as a mother shone through. “I will not stop fighting for my girl,” she exclaimed.
This is the message that needs to resonate with us and our nation today. We cannot, and will not, stop fighting for our mothers, sisters and children.
As the Democratic Alliance, we will not stop calling on government to take responsibility and implement its own plan of action to protect the lives of women and children.
What has happened to the government’s Integrated Programme of Action for Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) which was developed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee?
Despite it being lauded from a policy perspective when it came to implementation, the plan was however criticised for not being costed.  How then could it be taken seriously without the necessary budget?  The fact that the country is still experiencing heightened levels of VAWC calls into question the government’s ability to perform one of its most fundamental functions: that is, to protect its citizens.
What then has gone wrong, Chairperson?  Are we continuing to put the lives of women and children at risk while we develop documents that are launched and never implemented?  Are we paying lip service at the expense of lives that are being lost on a daily basis?
As the DA, we will endeavour to empower the vulnerable and give voice to the voiceless.  Our vision for South Africa is one which seeks to build a society that values and expresses the humanity inherent in all women, men and children.