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Tag Archive: womens rights

Joburg Mayor Makhubo calls for stern action against GBV culprits

Reprinted from joburg.org.za – 2020-08-19

The City expects law enforcement agencies to take stern action against perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), all the while guaranteeing protection for victims.

COJ urges action against gender-based violence

It is incumbent on law enforcement officials to create safer conditions that ensure female victims reporting cases of violence against male perpetrators are not re-victimised.

These are the sentiments of Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo, the Executive Mayor, who decries the deplorable state of femicide in the country.

Cllr Makhubo says August, as Women’s Month, allows the City to evaluate its contribution towards eradicating sexism and fostering a truly non-sexist and anti-sexist society.

“GBV and femicide demand a collective response because they threaten our beliefs, first encapsulated in the Freedom Charter and now in the Constitution, that South Africa belongs to all its people – women and men; black and white – regardless of their sexual orientation,” the Mayor explains.

Cllr Makhubo recently unveiled the City’s Women’s Month programme, which aims to address gender-based violence and femicide (GBV&F) under the theme “Generation Equality: Realising women’s rights for an equal future”.

The programme is rolled out in phases:

Women Empowerment week (17 – 22 August 2020) seeks to reflect on existing societal roles and to explore opportunities to question gender divisions in skills development and the labour market.

The City will roll out a series of stakeholder consultations on the review of the municipal Gender Policy through webinars targeting female councillors and municipal employees.

The month-long programme will culminate in a Women in Leadership week (24 – 29 August 2020) aimed at accelerating women’s economic empowerment by providing affordable, usable and responsive financial and non-financial support to women-owned businesses and providing business-related information to those aspiring to participate in entrepreneurial activities.

Black women are encouraged to enter the property industry as the sector is still male-dominated. The weeklong programme will also encourage sustainable, balanced, inclusive growth and improve the representation of women in political leadership positions.

“Through this initiative, the City hopes to showcase the wealth of wisdom and leadership invested in women and tap into their insight in crafting a society that is fair and just for generations to come,” Cllr Makhubo explains.

Further reading:

Alcohol not the sole cause of gender-based violence

Covid-19 has gifted us a chance to end gender-based violence. We must take it

Security company helping the fight against domestic/gender-based violence

Locked down with an abuser?

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It is ‘all men’, to varying degrees: men’s violence against women is a systemic crisis

This article was written by the executive director of White Ribbon Australia, part of a global social movement working to eliminate gendered violence. Replace “Australia” with “South Africa” and everything he says is equally true of our society. Inequality is so deeply embedded structurally that men and women alike see nothing wrong with mother-in-law jokes or quips about women drivers. For every man who says, “But I’m not like that; I respect women,” this article is for you. Most of us do not behave violently towards women, but, “We have been taught – either subtly or overtly – that because of our gender we deserve a special kind of respect.” Let this be a wake-up call. 

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Brad Chilcott – 2020-0-07

As White Ribbon’s new executive director, I believe it’s worth mobilising the movement towards meaningful action

Handgesture - Stop violence against women
 WRA executive director Brad Chilcott: ‘We need to take ownership of the ways we create the environment that allows men to believe they are entitled to a greater share of power in society and relationships.’ Photograph: Golib Golib Tolibov/Alamy Stock Photo

“Why?” has been the most consistent response when I’ve told my progressive friends that I’ve taken on the role of executive director of White Ribbon Australia for its next chapter. They didn’t miss the organisation that had first become publicly synonymous with ending family violence and then famous for problematic ambassadors and financial ruin. As a volunteer White Ribbon supporter myself, I agreed with much of the criticism – and yet I continue to believe it’s worth mobilising the tens of thousands of Australians who constitute the White Ribbon movement towards meaningful action.

Gender inequality is structural violence. It creates the space for acts of gendered violence by normalising disrespect as it socialises the idea that one gender is more valuable or capable than another.

It is clear that men’s violence against women is an ongoing systemic crisis – from the murder of more than one woman a week, to Australian police responding to family violence once every two minutes, to the sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace – and when we know that approximately 80% of women who experience violence don’t report their abuse we begin to comprehend the vast scale of this emergency.

Gendered violence begins with the idea that you are entitled to obedience, sex, authority or a different set of freedoms because you are a man. That you have the intrinsic right to treat someone else in a way that you would not be treated. It is expressed in coercive control – exerting power over your partner’s finances, social life, clothing, career or otherwise reducing their individual agency.

I grew up in a religious environment that taught that men were the head of the house, that women couldn’t perform certain rituals, weren’t able to teach men or take leadership positions. When I was a child, my default image of engineers, pilots, football players and prime ministers was male. I said “policeman” instead of “police officer” and assumed my doctors would be men and my nurses would be women.

None of these things automatically turn me into a man who uses violence in my intimate relationships. But they demonstrate that many men in Australia – religious and otherwise – have been raised in cultures that share a history of entrenched gender inequality. We have been taught – either subtly or overtly – that because of our gender we deserve a special kind of respect. We have been raised with a certain expectation of male power and to have control of our homes, partners, children, faith communities, sporting clubs and workplaces. To believe that men have a right to decide what happens to women’s bodies.

Many of us have had this perspective role modelled to us, and indeed have seen the violence – whether physical violence, emotional manipulation, sexual exploitation or spiritual abuse – that men have used to dominate, control and harm women. We have seen men desperate to hold on to their power as they grow insecure in a changing society. We might say that not all misogyny leads to violence but that all violence starts with misogyny.

So yes, “all men”, to varying degrees. Therefore, our first responsibility in responding to this national crisis is to reflect on our own beliefs and attitudes, our culturally acquired perception of gender norms and to consider and change the ways these translate into our behaviour. We need to take ownership of the ways we create the environment that allows men to believe they are entitled to a greater share of power in society and relationships – and often exercise that power to harm others.

The abuse of power is violence – whatever form that takes.

If you’re monitoring your partner’s phone, telling them what they’re allowed to wear, if they have to ask your permission to spend time with friends or family – that’s not equality, it’s an abuse of power.

If, because you’re a man, you think you have the right to be obeyed, to make all the decisions, to be the head of a house, to have an unequal share of power – or indeed to be paid more, have more social freedoms, that your opinion is more important – then you are promoter of gender inequality. If you use any form of coercive control over your partner to enforce that privilege, then you’re a perpetrator of gendered violence.

How do we respond? Perhaps understanding that aspiring to be a good male role model is about much more than controlling aggression. It’s a man who is willing to listen and learn. Who is aware of their power and privilege – and chooses to utilise them towards cultural and political change. It’s someone who is determined to share power in their relationships and hold on to their privilege loosely, knowing we all benefit when everyone is equally valued, included and given the opportunity to flourish.

In some quarters it seems controversial to say that men have a role to play in eliminating gendered violence and advancing gender equality. What is certainly problematic is placing men on a pedestal for not using violence or not acknowledging the decades of tireless campaigning by women that built the foundation of awareness and positive change that male advocates stand on today. However, as it is men that need to stop being violent and to break the cycle of generational misogyny, they must be part of the solution.

Certainly, the men who hold on to the majority of the political power in Australia have not responded to the terror and suffering experienced by women in Australia in a manner commensurate to the crisis, nor with the magnitude of money and commitment expended on their self-identified priorities. A willingness to listen to and learn from women – and then act not only decisively but also proportionately – would go a long way towards creating safety for women now and pave the way for equality into the future.

 Brad Chilcott is executive director of White Ribbon Australia

Links added by SD Law.

Contact Family Lawyers Cape Town for help

As family lawyers, our job is to protect the vulnerable members of a family. Both women and children are at risk from structural gendered violence. If you are experiencing gendered violence, whether physical abuse, emotional manipulation, or coercive control, Cape Town Divorce Attorneys can help. We now offer online consultations. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email  sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za today, and we’ll call you back to schedule a meeting at a time that suits you, on the platform of your choosing.

Important contact numbers:

GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone
Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
Childline: 0800 055 555
SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211
GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za

Further reading:

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‘Calamitous’: domestic violence set to soar by 20% during global lockdown

Data from the UN population fund, outlining increases in abuse, FGM and child marriage, predicts a grim decade for many women

lockdown domestic violence

Domestic violence / gender-based violence / violence against women (VAW) – call it what you will. It is a global epidemic arguably worse than COVID-19, because there is no quick fix for it. Self-isolating and “social distancing” won’t cure domestic violence, and all over the world there is evidence that lockdowns are making it much, much worse. On the same day this article from the Guardian appeared in the morning, by the afternoon there was a further report from Spain of a woman killed by her partner, the 19th such case in Spain this year.


At least 15m more cases of domestic violence are predicted around the world this year as a result of pandemic restrictions, according to new data that paints a bleak picture of life for women over the next decade.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has also calculated that tens of millions of women will not be able to access modern contraceptives this year, and millions more girls will undergo female genital mutilation or be married off by 2030.

Natalia Kanem, the fund’s executive director, called the findings “totally calamitous”.

Authorities around the world have reported rising cases of abuse as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The figures, published on Tuesday by the UNFPA and its partners Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University in the US and Victoria University in Australia, assume a 20% increase in violence during an average three-month lockdown in all 193 UN member states. The figures take into account the anticipated high levels of under-reported cases.

Researchers expect 15m additional cases of domestic violence for every three months that lockdown is extended. They also estimate that the disruption to violence prevention programmes because of the pandemic and the diversion of resources elsewhere could mean a third fewer cases of violence are averted by 2030.

Researchers also project that up to 44 million women in 114 low and middle-income countries will be unable to access contraceptives if lockdown and Covid-19 related restrictions continue for three months and cause major disruption to services. This would result in an estimated 1 million unintended pregnancies.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation has reported that more than 5,000 clinics have closed in 64 countries and Marie Stopes International predicts that Covid-19 restrictions on its services could mean 3 million additional unintended pregnancies, 2.7 million unsafe abortions and 11,000 pregnancy-related deaths.

The pandemic is also expected to derail efforts to end FGM. Researchers had expected the scaling up of FGM prevention programmes over the next 10 years would mean 5.3 million fewer girls being cut. This figure is projected to be reduced by a third.

Meanwhile the disruption to programmes to prevent child marriage will result in an additional 13 million children being married over the next decade.

World leaders have pledged to eliminate violence against women and girls, FGM and child marriage, as well as ensure universal access to family planning by 2030, under the sustainable development goals.

“It’s a calamity. Totally calamitous,” said Kanem. “It is so clear that Covid-19 is compounding the no longer subterranean disparities that affect millions of women and girls.”

She said the pandemic “threatened the gains carefully eked out” over recent years. “We are very worried indeed.”

She said UNFPA teams in the Arab states and east and southern Africa had reported that “people were rushing to marry their daughters” already, while deaths in childbirth in one east African country had tripled this year.

Wendo Aszed, the founder of Dandelion Africa, which runs economic empowerment programmes in Kenya’s Rift Valley, said it had been forced to reduce its mobile family planning services by 40% because of coronavirus restrictions.

Many women in the region have up to eight children and live on about $1.50 (£1.20) a day.

“On a bad day we will have 300 people [attend mobile clinics]. Some days we get up to 700 people showing up,” said Aszed. “That has been really impacted. We cannot treat women in these places.”

She said that from mid-March to mid-April, more than 40 cases of violence have been reported to her organisation, more than the total number it dealt with last year.

“A lot more women are a lot more aware that they can report and can leave marriages,” she said. “Women are fed up and they are seeing opportunities. With Covid things could get a lot worse so they need to deal with this problem and then can deal with Covid.”

Traci Baird, president of EngenderHealth, said UNFPA had “put numbers to things that we have been discussing for weeks”.

“The magnitude of the problem is absolutely enormous and that should motivate and mobilise us to take action now and be prepared to manage and support countries, and partners and families, in catching up after.

“We know what works, we have best practices that have impact,” she added. “We have to do things better and faster and smarter. We don’t have time to do learnings and ramp up phases, or workshops and meetings. We have to get back to work.”

Reprinted from the Guardian, 2020-04-28. Written by Liz Ford.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As family lawyers, we are very concerned about the levels of gender-based violence we are experiencing as a nation – both now during lockdown and at all times. We are also concerned that police and the authorities…including court officials…often don’t take emotional violence as seriously as physical violence, as we saw in a recent case that came before the courts in Cape Town. Emotional abuse is as damaging as physical abuse, and furthermore, often presages it. It must not be ignored or dismissed.

If you are worried about a friend or family member, or if you have concerns about the nature of your own relationship, this article will help you identify the signs of abuse. If you become aware of a neighbour in distress, call the police and report it. If you are frightened to remain in the home during lockdown, or if you need a protection order to keep you safe, contact Simon at Cape Town Divorce Attorneys on 086 099 5146 or email  sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Here’s a reminder of those important contact numbers:

  • GBV Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone
  • Persons with disabilities, SMS ‘help’ to 31531
  • Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150
  • Childline: 0800 055 555
  • SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211
  • GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/
  • complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za
  • National AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322
  • National Human Trafficking Helpline: 0800 222 777
  • Suicide Helpline: 0800 567 567
  • Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999
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Women’s Day 2018 – why is it still necessary?

Women's day 2018

Why are women still fighting for basic human rights? Women’s Day 2018

Every year in South Africa we observe Women’s Day on 9th August, to commemorate the women who raised their voices against racial injustice during the Struggle, marching in 1956 on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest at the oppressive pass laws.

National Women’s Day 2018 is intended to celebrate the progress of women in all walks of life in South Africa. Back in 1994, at the dawn of democracy, women constituted less than three per cent of the South African parliament. Today over 40 per cent of parliamentary representatives are women. We tend to observe all of August as Women’s Month, setting time aside each year to mark South African women and their accomplishments.

At SD Law we are proud of the achievements of South African women in so many walks of life, but Women’s Day 2018 also inspires us to reflect on the many inequities that still exist in our country. Why are we not yet where we should be, in terms of equality, fairness and justice? Many women still live in fear of violence from intimate partners, or suffer lower wages than male counterparts (despite legislation to prevent this), or lack agency to conduct their lives meaningfully as they choose. We are left pondering what more we – women and men – need to do to bring about lasting change and to create a society that is fairer for all.

Several things have happened recently that have given us pause for thought.

 

#TheTotalShutdown

On 1 August, marches took place across South Africa calling for an end to gender-based violence (GBV). Petitions were handed over to government officials, demanding stronger government action against GBV, and marches brought major cities like Tshwane to a halt. Men were asked not to attend the march, and to support their women friends, family members and colleagues by staying away from work that day, or at the very least refraining from any economic activity for the half hour between 13.00 and 13:30.

Gender-nonconformists and members of the LGTBQI community took part, but cis men were not invited, because men are the (most common) perpetrators of violence against women. On the one hand, we understand the sense of sisterhood that the march organisers wanted to invoke. On the other hand, a) not all men violate women and b) men need to be part of the fight to end violence against women. Men who abhor violence must be vocal and must take action. They must call their fellow men out not just on violent conduct but on misogynistic mentalities and behaviours that foster a culture that allows GBV to happen. The exclusion of men from an event like #TheTotalShutdown somehow contradicts the ultimate objective of the marches – to create a society where men and women live together in mutual respect and without fear.

 

The Allbright Club

Recently a women’s business networking club in London, called the AllBright Club (after US Senator Madeleine Albright, famously credited with saying, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”), hit the headlines because it appointed a man as Chairperson. The founders, Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones, have been widely criticised, but have defended the appointment because “…the group is operating amid the uncomfortable realities of scarce finance, where men still control the majority of start-up capital, so men have to be brought on board…”

This is a tricky one. Surely the symbolism of having a male Chair of a women’s networking organisation is counterintuitive, if not counterproductive. On the other hand, Wosskow and Jones live in the real world, and if the club is to succeed, to advance women in business, it needs finance. Is it ironic that their cause will find more favour if a man pleads their case to investors? Yes. Is it wrong? Absolutely. But to challenge that iniquity (and that inequity) they have to work within the system to change it.

We know not everyone will agree with us. But organisations like the AllBright Club want to see a world where men and women have equal access to capital, equal opportunities to succeed in business, and an equal share of resources and assets. They are not trying to create a parallel, women-only universe. So men need to be part of the vision and part of the machinery that achieves that vision. Enlightened men should have no problem with this concept.

 

Mothers vs. lovers

Finally, we were saddened and frustrated by recent news from a friend: her husband left her because she was “spending too much time running after their son”. Their son. Said son is eight years old – a child. And his father is jealous of the time his mother spends with him. It’s hard to know how to respond to such an antediluvian sentiment. A woman, with a busy professional job, contributing equally to the household finances, raising a child in a supposedly modern relationship where parental responsibilities are shared, has been criticised and abandoned because she is too much of a mother and not enough of a lover. No doubt if her time were allocated differently, there would be plenty of criticism of her for not being a good enough mother.

 

The problem is patriarchy

The problem is not one of whether men march in protest at GBV with women or not, or whether it is right or wrong to appoint a man to the Chair of a women’s business club. The issue is one of patriarchy: a social structure that insists a woman be perfect mother, dedicated homemaker, financial partner and available lover all at once; a social structure that dictates that the women’s club will stand a better chance of raising finance with a man at the helm; a social structure that allows women to be so denigrated and violated that they are forced to rise up in protest, and prefer to do so without the presence of the very men who abuse them.

Patriarchy is the construct that must be challenged. And it can only be changed with the input and influence of all members of society, not just half of it. If men are the problem, they must be part of the solution.

Did you enjoy our Women’s Day 2018 post? You may enjoy this too – Women in the workplace

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Womens Rights – How far have we really come?

Womens Rights

Women’s Rights – August is Women’s Day in South Africa. Although the celebrations centre around the 9th, Women’s Day, in fact the whole month is given over to a reminder and celebration of the role women play in advancing human rights and helping to create a fairer society.

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