Voice notes for Ramaphosa: President to be flooded with messages calling for anti-GBV laws to be fast-tracked
President Cyril Ramaphosa is used to receiving memorandums, but this time around he’ll be flooded with voice notes asking him to speed up legislative processes to protect the women and children of SA.
This relates to bills that focus on, among other issues, bail for perpetrators, the definition of domestic violence, the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders, and a new offence of sexual intimidation.
Non-government organisation POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) has urged all South Africans to record voice notes for the president during the 16 Days of Activism as part of its #EndDomesticSilence campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to ask for three key legislative bills to be fast-tracked so that gender-based violence can be tackled with more than just words.
POWA partnered with Joko tea (owned by Unilever) urging the government to prioritise three new bills that were introduced to parliament in September this year.
The one is the bill to amend the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.
“This creates a new offence of sexual intimidation, extends the ambit of the offence of incest, and extends the duty of reporting suspected sexual abuse of a child. It also expands the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders, including public naming of perpetrators,” POWA said in a statement.
The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill tightens the granting of bail in cases of GBV and femicide, and expands offences for which minimum sentences must be imposed.
Third, proposed amendments to the Domestic Violence Act extend the provisions to those who are engaged, dating, in customary relationships and actual or perceived romantic, intimate, or sexual relationships of any length of time.
The definition of “domestic violence” is also extended to protect the elderly from abuse by family members.
Seven women are killed every day in SA, and it is reported that between 40% and 50% of men admit to having perpetrated physical partner violence, POWA said.
“Research shows us that it takes parliament an average of 153 days to pass a bill, with a lengthy 96 days from adoption to assent by the president. But time is not on our side. If ever there was legislation that should be fast-tracked, this is it,” POWA head Mary Makgaba said.
Highlighting the tragic intersection of Covid-19 with the country’s GBV scourge, the president said in June that no fewer than 21 women and children had been murdered by men in the previous two weeks.
After the first three weeks of lockdown, the government’s GBV and femicide command centre’s 24-hour emergency line had received 120,000 calls for help — double the usual number.
“Very few women are empowered to speak about their experiences and so remain silent, largely out of shame or fear. We hope that giving everyone a chance to have their say to #EndDomesticSilence will act as a catalyst for change,” says Unilever’s marketing manager for Joko tea, Sue Marshall.
Recorded voice notes will be collected, collated as a petition and personally delivered to the president.
Campaign ambassadors include well-known GBV survivor Tracey Going, news anchor Leanne Manas, and sexual health thought leader Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (known to the public as Dr T’).
Last year it was announced by Unilever that R1 from every box of Joko 100 tea bags sold would be donated to POWA, translating to around R5m per year.
The money is used to provide advocacy for women’s rights, shelter, and counselling and legal services.
Visit joko-addyourvoice.uwina.com to find out more or follow the hashtag to join the conversation: