Women activists believe the rights of women and girls continue to be violated in Zimbabwe even though the country has the best laws designed to address gender-based violence and inequality.
The activists state that, there is little action to match the laws available to protect women who were constantly abused in homes, schools and in the workplace.
Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe’s director, Virginia Muwanigwa - speaking at the launch of the Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol Barometer for 2013 - asserts that the problem emanated from the country’s failure to implement legislation.
To read the article titled, “Laws Fail to Protect Women, Girl Child,” click hereSource:All Africa
Having been labelled a ‘rape apologist’, David Bullard tried to make peace by starting a donation drive for the Rape Crisis Centre, but the organisation rejected his money.
The controversial columnist started his attempt at donating with this tweet: “Followers, please donate to @RapeCrisis and I’ll start the ball rolling with R3 000. Bank details please.”
The Rape Crisis Centre responded by saying: “@RapeCrisis will not be party to @lunchout2’s whitewashing his actions through associating himself with us. We decline his donation.”
To read the article titled, “No thanks, rape NGO tells Bullard,” click here.Source:IOL News
The Film and Publication Board, along with Google, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other organisations, announced a partnership designed to create awareness of cyber safety and fight online child pornography.
The national programme, which will begin this month, will promote the safer and more responsible use of the internet and online technologies.
The programme kicked off at Jules High School in Johannesburg, a school which made headlines in 2010 because of a sex-video scandal involving three pupils.
To read the article titled, “Strike at heart of porn,” click here.Source:Times Live
Child Line and other organisations in the Northern Cape have remained silent after the recent rape of a six week-old baby, allegedly by a relative.
The organisations are also quiet after the murder of a one-year old boy, allegedly killed by his father.
However, Child Line's Naomi Edwards says they are in dire financial straits, adding that, “With the lack of financial resources NGOs [non-governmental organisations] are finding themselves in a very tight position.”
To read the article titled, “Child rights organisations in dire financial straits,” click here.Source:SABC News
There are five more days before the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign ends, however, the alarming incidents of women's abuse remain a serious concern.
NGOs such as Thusanang Advice Centre in Phuthaditjhaba in the eastern Free State, has been contributing towards the reduction of gender-based violence.
Acting director, Jeanette Makae, points out that, "We are conducting workshops around the communities, all over the different villages in QwaQwa. We even train the community on human rights, all the acts that protect human rights and all the abuses that have taken place to the girl child and the women.”
To read the article titled, “F State NGO pushes on to reduce gender-based violence,” click here.Source:SABC News
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has officially kicked off its 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence in South Africa.
The public broadcaster is calling upon Men of Honour to take a stand and say no to violence against women and children.
SABC group communications officer, Kaizer Kganyago, says that, “SABC will be utilising all 18 radio stations and four television channels to make sure that they highlight this serious issue.”
To read the article titled, “SABC, NGO join 16 days of activism campaign,” click here.Source:SABC News
Women’s organisations in Mozambique plan to protest outside the country’s Parliament against articles in a new draft of the penal code, including a provision that charges of rape or other sexual offences will be dropped if the rapist marries the victim.
The penal code is currently being revised by the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Commission, but it has left much of the old penal code, directly inherited from the Portuguese penal code of 1886, intact.
The protest will also be directed at other provisions in the penal code which the women’s organisations say discriminate against women and children.
To read the article titled, “‘Marrying your rapist is not justice’,” click here.Source:IOL News
- To understand South Africa’s present condition, in which violence against women and girls is endemic, we must travel back to an unfamiliar past. Digging deep, answers can be unearthed to questions about forms of gendered abuse that unrelentingly flourish today. It is important to do this work, as violence against women cannot be eradicated without exploring the rationalisations that sustain it.
Undoubtedly, the subject of the intersection between culture and violence is complicated by a long history of racist and stereotypical depictions of black culture under apartheid. This is compounded by continued debates about how culture is defined and which traditions are authentic. Despite this complicated terrain, it is critical to understand how practices embedded in custom, even if contested, significantly affect women’s lives.
Abusive cases of ukuthwala - the isiXhosa term referring to the practice of kidnapping a girl or woman for purposes of marriage - have highlighted the uneasy relationship between culture and violence. My research seeks to understand why communities and families still frequently condone the kidnapping, assault, and rape of young girls for purposes of marriage even as such actions are challenged.
Where do the justifications for these practices come from? How are these convictions connected to other contemporary forms of violence against women? The purpose of this research is not to suggest that certain communities or groups are innately violent, as that is not the case. Rather, my goal is to comprehend why violence has so visibly persisted to the point that it is considered acceptable under particular conditions.
In-depth research, such as that of Dr Elizabeth Thornberry’s on sexual violence among Xhosa-speaking groups in the Eastern Cape, has discovered that violent forms of ukuthwala existed as far back as the 1800s. Building upon this foundation, my research draws on both historical sources and contemporary quantitative studies about Xhosa-speaking communities in the Eastern and Western Capes.
Tracing the history of relationship customs among Xhosa communities from the 1800s until modern times shows that many of the aggressive acts associated with ukuthwala today are based on longstanding customary notions. Moreover, these beliefs interlink with a range of modern manifestations of abuses against women, and can be seen from rural areas of the former Transkei in the Eastern Cape to sprawling urban townships like Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
To illustrate these findings, let us focus on the issue of rape. In former times, men too raped women and girls whom they had thwala-ed. Although this was not considered to be an ideal tool, it was often sanctioned by the families and communities of assaulted girls, as is the case today. Why is this so? To begin to answer this, it is necessary to scrutinise the definition of rape.
As in all parts of the world, rape has been defined differently across various eras. Historically, only certain categories of sexual violence against women were considered to be criminal under Xhosa law. Whether an act was deemed to be rape-depended on the relationship between the man and the woman and the intent behind the man’s use of force.
In the case of ukuthwala, the act of sexually assaulting a woman in order to make her submit to marriage, was viewed as legitimate precisely because of the context of marriage. J Van Tromp, a legal scholar who studied Xhosa-speaking groups in the Eastern Cape in the early 20th century, explained: “In Xhosa law a series of connected acts is viewed as a whole and is judged retrospectively from the viewpoint of the objective sought and attained… the brute force employed against the girl can be condoned by her later consent and the violation of the bride’s father’s consent can be condoned by his final agreement to the marriage”. In essence, because marriage was such a sacred institution, and its attainment a significant and respected goal for a Xhosa man, this excused and justified violent acts that might precede matrimony.
A 2005 study by researcher Kate Wood, titled ‘Contextualising Group Rape in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, details the existence of these particularised forms of sexual violence in an urban township in the former Transkei. During interviews, elders confirmed that in their communities, rape during ukuthwala was overlooked in the past.
One woman recalled, “Some guys would hold you down for your husband-to-be. If a girl has strength, then men would turn out the light, holding your legs open for the guy to sleep with you. Whatever you try to do, they are holding you down. Even if you cry, old people wouldn’t care, they knew what was going on.”
Notably, in the same study, most participants disagreed that sexually violating a woman during the ukuthwala process constituted rape. Significantly, one elder stated: “Today it would be called rape.” This statement vividly captures how differently sexual violence can be viewed depending on place and time.
Here, elders acknowledged that modern norms have begun to shift cultural perceptions of rape but this is still not wholly accepted. The continued patterns of violence against girls who are thwala-ed highlight the present-day relevance of the long-standing view that it is acceptable to sexually assault a woman to make her a wife.
The concept that a man is within his rights to violate a girl or woman under certain circumstances, is present in a range of other contemporary environments. The aforementioned study also explored a form of group rape known as ‘streamlining’. It found that young men use ‘streamlining’ to punish or discipline their girlfriends or ‘loose women’.
They generally deny that this is rape, asserting that the women deserve it. The violent practice is considered useful for achieving certain goals, such as proving their manhood among peers and keeping women in subservient positions.
Further demonstrating how rape is made acceptable, a1996 study conducted among Xhosa youth in Khayelitsha concluded that violence is a “consistent feature of female adolescents’ sexual lives.” In parallel with the theme of rape being sanctioned when girls are thwala-ed, many adolescents interviewed felt that sexual assault is not rape when committed in the context of a relationship.
Connecting historical practices to current abuses lays bare that the beliefs that perpetuate extreme acts of ukuthwala have a long lineage and do not exist in isolation. These ideas shape other acts of gendered violence that at first glance may appear distant or unrelated. As we determinedly advocate the elimination of violence against women, we must view culture as not merely an insular force, tucked away in rural areas. Culture refers to ways of doing and thinking justified by what has gone before.
The challenge lies in advancing the traditions that protected women and girls – for they too existed – and using these to bolster our modern conceptions of human rights.
- Nyasha Karimakwenda is a gender consultant for the gender and family affairs division in the ministry of social development, Grenada, West Indies. She was formerly a Fox Fellow at the Centre for Legal Studies, University of Cape Town. This article first appeared on Custom Contested.
- The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report reveals that gender gaps across the globe are slowly starting to close. Although international and regional gender equality instruments are helping to close these gaps, many parts of the world, including Southern Africa are still far from achieving equality. One important factor hindering this achievement is that our efforts tend to exclude the engagement of men in fighting for gender equality.
Women in the Southern Africa, particularly those living in rural areas, still face overwhelming challenges. They represent a disproportionate share of the poor with a lack of access to natural and basic productive resources. Of all people living with HIV and AIDS in the world, 34 percent live in Southern Africa. Gender disparities and sexual violence against women and girls remains one of the major drivers of the epidemic in the region.
Gender-based violence (GBV) has soared to pandemic proportions. Violence Against Women Baseline Studies conducted in six countries - Botswana, Mauritius, four provinces of South Africa, four districts of Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe - show lifetime prevalence rates of 25 percent (Mauritius) to 89 percent in the four districts of Zambia.
Despite ongoing efforts and campaigns, we have not adequately focused on gender transformative approaches such as promoting equitable relationships, transforming customary practices that discriminate against women and challenging the global system of patriarchy.
To do this successfully, we must introduce the engagement of men and boys as partners and allies on a regional policy level. This is especially important within inter-governmental organisations like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), where broader reforms can be defined, mandated and implemented.
The engagement of men as allies in achieving gender equality has received little mention in regional policies in Africa. Yet, a broad and growing base of evidence shows that effectively engaging men can have significant benefits for women, children and men themselves.
Promoting equitable gender norms and developing public policy aimed at engaging men and boys helps achieve equality at the household, community and societal levels. It improves men and women’s access to HIV treatment and other health services; reduces men’s perpetration of violence against women and children; reduces the disproportionate burden of domestic tasks on women; increases men’s involvement in their children’s lives; engages men as partners in women’s economic empowerment and reduces homophobia and discrimination towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) people.
Sonke Gender Justice Network will soon release a report that scrutinised various SADC policies, such as the SADC Gender Protocol and the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in order to evaluate the extent to which they contain language that promotes the proactive engagement of men and boys for achieving gender equality.
In its analysis, Sonke found that while a few SADC policies seek to engage men and boys, none of the policies acknowledge the benefits of engaging men as partners. The policies do not identify men’s participation as a potential solution to the challenges within the region nor do they address the role of harmful masculinities in perpetuating gender inequality as well as the need to challenge and transform these masculinities.
Sonke includes in the report, a number of recommendations to enhance the focus on engaging men and boys within SADC policies, in the areas of gender equality, GBV and HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual reproductive health rights promotion.
Sonke recommends that SADC introduces a more inclusive definition of ‘gender’ that addresses the underlying gender norms that contribute to gender inequality in the region. The definition of GBV should better address the unequal power relations between the victim and the perpetrator (usually between a woman and a man), and include how GBV perpetuates and reinforces women’s subordinate position in society.
With reference to HIV, SADC policies need to address men's health-seeking behaviour, especially concerning men and boys’ low uptake of HIV treatment and low HIV testing. These policies should also clearly articulate how harmful masculinities and GBV worsen the spread of HIV. Finally, SADC policies need to be more explicit about ways to involve men as partners in supporting women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
With the SADC Gender Protocol deadline fast approaching, and the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance demanding a stronger post-2015 agenda, Sonke Gender Justice calls on SADC to prioritise the engagement of men and boys to ensure we move quickly towards achieving gender equality.
- Hanna Jansson, Bafana Khumalo and Tim Shand work at Sonke Gender Justice. They are the Regional Policy and Advocacy Consultant, Senior Programmes Specialist, and International Programmes Director respectively. This article is part of the Gender Links News Service, offering fresh views on every day news. Follow Gender Links on Twitter and Facebook.
- White Ribbon South AfricaPlease note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.Opportunity closing date:Wednesday, March 19, 2014Opportunity type:Employment
White Ribbon South Africa seeks to appoint a Freelance Executive Assistant, based in Pretoria.
The successful candidate will work hand-in-hand with the Director, providing support in a wide range of administrative functions.
- Assist the Director in all matters of correspondence with both internal and external stakeholders such as donors, supporters, media etc;
- Diary planning, setting up schedules and monitoring deadlines;
- Manage all incoming and outgoing communications of the organisation;
- Maintain database of funders;
- Draft correspondence, advertisements, notices, flyers, newsletter items, etc;
- Social media management.
- Demonstrated work experience in project and/or administrative support;
- Advanced computer skills (Microsoft Office Suite);
- High-level oral and written communication, representation and liaison skills;
- Experience working in donor funded programmes will be a distinct advantage;
- Communication and interpersonal skills;
- Ability to work effectively as a team member and with minimal supervision.
Remuneration: R300 per day.
To apply, submit a two-page CV and motivational letter to email@example.com.
Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.
For more about White Ribbon Campaign, refer to www.whiteribbon.co.za.
For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.
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