Violence Against Women Needs Attention 365 Days Of Every Year
The Justice Desk is echoing calls to place issues of gender-based violence and femicide on the agenda 365 days a year.
Jessica Dewhurst, the Catholic founder and CEO of The Justice Desk, said gender-based violence (GBV) is a present and consistent threat to women. Yet, she noted, our media, communities and government responses do not reflect this.
“To defeat this national pandemic…we require a significant increase in the allocation of resources to non-governmental and community-based organisations, in order for them to develop and implement along with local law enforcement agencies,” Ms Dewhurst said.
“These organisations must be assisted by the government as part of the national plan to address the issue of GBV,” she added.
The rate of GBV, and specifically violence against women at the hands of men in South Africa, has infiltrated all aspects of the lived experiences of women, Ms Dewhurst said. It is present in the school, home, community and public sectors.
“A core focus is on policy change, yet GBV organisations on the ground are underfunded, understaffed and have to reduce operations or turn women and children away due to a lack of resources,” she said.
“It is our moral and legal obligation as all sectors of society to hold our systems, leaders and male perpetrators of violence accountable,” Ms Dewhurst said.
“We can no longer allow our country’s inadequate, underresourced and ill-equipped frameworks to fail our women and children,” she added.
The Justice Desk is calling for:
- The Emergency Response Action Plan’s five key intervention areas’ target-reach be strengthened and updates be made available to the public monthly.
- The nationwide response to school-related GBV be strengthened through child-protection policies, protocols, and regular, practical training in schools for parents, students, teachers and staff.
- Confidential and well-equipped school counselling systems be available in all schools.
- The school-based curriculum be revised to strengthen individual understanding of the law, reporting and human rights.
- A structure be established to coordinate and hold the government responsible for its inaction, to ensure the correct handling of the prosecution of perpetrators.
- Government resources be allocated to relevant non-governmental and community-based organisations.
“While policy and legislative change is necessary and welcomed, actual change at the community level is needed, and it requires a multisector approach that holds men accountable,” Ms Dewhurst said.