rights

rights

  • SAITF to Take City of Joburg to Court

    The South African Informal Trader's Forum (SAITF) has announced plans to take the City of Johannesburg to court over the removal of informal traders in the Johannesburg central business district (CBD).

    In a press statement, SAITF states that the court action followed weeks of speaking to the city in order to find solutions to the evictions of traders.

    "The City of Johannesburg, in its clean sweep operation, removed illegal and legal traders regardless of whether one was in possession of a permit, lease or not," it states.

    To read the article titled, “Informal traders to take City of Joburg to court,” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • NGO Urges Zuma Not to Sign Info Bill

    The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has urged President Jacob Zuma not to sign the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) into law in its current form.
     
    In a press statement, SANEF states that it is concerned with the “…provisions that allow for broad classification of information, including that which has nothing to do with security of the state,” as well as delegating authority to ambiguous state officials to classify information.
     
    The organisation believes that the Bill criminalises the ownership and dissemination of classified state information, even if such information is in the public interest.

    To read the article titled, “SANEF urges Zuma not to sign info bill,” click here.

    Source: 
    IOL News
  • Call for UN to Prioritise Right to Privacy

    Brazil has called Internet privacy a world priority a day after it and Germany submitted a joint United Nations (UN) text on the issue in reaction to massive United States (US) cyber spying.
     
    Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, argues that privacy on the Internet is part of human rights and its protection must receive priority treatment in UN discussions.
     
    She further stresses that, "The right to privacy cannot be subjected to arbitrary interference, as shown by allegations of [US] spying.”.

    To read article titled, “Right to privacy must be UN priority,” click here.

    Source: 
    News 24
  • Childline On The Rocks

    When families and communities fail children, the government is left with the job of caring for them. Often non-governemental organisations (NGOs), such as Childline, carry out this responsibility - but they are struggling to survive.
     
    In Diepsloot, where the bodies of cousins Yonelisa Mali, two and Zandile Mali, three, were found in a public toilet this week - Childline could only field one social worker.
     
    The cousins' bodies were found near the spot where Anelisa Mkhondo, five, was found dumped and murdered last month.
     
    Joan Van Niekerk, advocacy and training manager for Childline, says the situation was dire. The organisation works to protect children from all forms of violence.
     
    Though it is ‘grateful’ for government funding, Van Niekerk says it covered only a third of the organisation's services nationally.
     
    "There is money in this country, it just doesn't go to the services that are so urgently needed," said Van Niekerk.
     
    "What you have is [President Jacob] Zuma spending R238-million on his Nkandla residence while he earns a president's salary. But just 10 kilometres from his home you have children who do not have enough to eat."
     
    Childline recently cut its staff complement. North West had the highest retrenchment rate but there were also job losses in other provinces such as Northern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
     
    In Western Cape, Childline had to sell its property just to survive.
     
    Van Niekerk says Diepsloot was not the only Childline office with only one worker. Many small offices in KwaZulu-Natal are in the same situation.
     
    According to a summary report by the Financial and Fiscal Commission, there are about 900 000 orphans in South Africa and the state has an obligation to provide them with social services.
     
    "Many NGOs are facing serious financial difficulties as a result of the increase in the demand for their services, coupled with a decline in external and government funding in recent years," the report says.
     
    "Delays in transfers from the government threaten their very existence and their ability to deliver services."
     
    Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant says R5 billion had been budgeted for NGO funding this year.
     
    The police have offered a R100 000 reward for information about the whereabouts of the suspected killer of the Mali children.
     
    Police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said the suspect, who is in his 30s, is about 1.7 metres tall and light-skinned.
     
    This story has been updated to reflect the correct amount budgeted bythe Department Social Development for NGO funding this year.
     
        - Nashira Davids is a journalist for The Times, and Graeme Hosken is a senior reporter at Sunday Times. This article first appeared on the Times Live website, www.timeslive.co.za.

  • Western Cape APD: Locum Social Worker - Paarl

    Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, July 12, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is a nonprofit organisation, affiliated to the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa. The Western Cape APD serves as a pro-active forum for the advancement of persons with physical disabilities so as to enable them to attain their maximum level of independence and integration into the community, and is active in the prevention of physical disablement.

    The Management committee of Drakenstein APD seeks to appoint a Locum Social Worker, based in Paarl, Western Cape.

    This is a four-month contract position.

    Starting date: 1 August 2013.
     
    Requirements:
    • Registration as Social Worker with the SACSSP;
    • Degree or diploma in social work;
    • Valid code 08 driver’s licence;
    • Computer literate;
    • Fluency in English and Afrikaans language;
    • Minimum of two years experience in social work; 
    • Knowledge in developmental social work;
    • Ability to work in the community and effectively use community resources;
    • Produce monthly statistics;
    • Passion to work with children and persons with disabilities.
    To apply, submit a CV to the Chairperson, Drakenstein Centre for Persons with Disabilities, PO Box 2657, Paarl 7646.
     
    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Should you not receive a feedback within 14 days after the closing date, consider your application unsuccessful.

    For more about the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities, refer to www.wcapd.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information.

  • United Nations Children’s Fund: Consultant - National South African ECD Awards.

    United Nations Children's Fund
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Wednesday, February 20, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. Guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it strives to establish children's rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour and action towards children.

    In South Africa, UNICEF supports national efforts to realise children’s rights by promoting evidence-based policy advocacy and strategic partnerships as a means to leverage policies and resources for children, giving special attention to vulnerable children and disparity reduction. It works in the areas of health and nutrition, early childhood development; basic education; child protection and social policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation.

    UNICEF seeks the service of a Consultant to Assess the National South African Early Childhood Development (ECD) Awards, based in South Africa.

    This is a three-month 60 days consultancy.

    Starting date: 1 March 2013 and ends 30 April 2013.

    Justification/background

    The South African Early Childhood Development Awards (SAECD Awards) started in 2003 as the ABSA SOWETAN ECD Awards. The name change came about as a result of increased interest by other ECD donors and development partners to participate and support the Awards. The current Partners of the ECD Awards are, ABSA Bank, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, Jim Joel Fund, and the Departments of Basic Education, Social Development UNICEF.

    Representatives from each of these partners form the Awards Steering Committee. The Awards main objective is to recognise best practice in the ECD sector and encourage the provision of quality ECD services and programmes for the benefit of the young children of the country.  There are five categories of the Awards:

    1. Best ECD Centre of the Year
    2. Best ECD Practitioner of the Year
    3. Best ECD Trainer of the Year
    4. Best Publication of the Yea
    5. Best ECD  Intervention Programme
     
    Partners contribute prizes for each of the above categories as agreed upon by the Steering Committee Recognition of best practice and outstanding participation in ECD is conducted through participants entering themselves or being nominated to enter a particular Award category. Selection commences at provincial level and culminates to national level. Short listed candidates are interviewed and verification visits to the programme sites are conducted where applicable. Final short listed winners attend a national ceremony where finalists are awarded their prizes. Recipients of the Awards are Trainers, Practitioners, ECD Centres and Publishers of books for children birth to five. Prizes are used to enhance the work of the ECD programmes that the prize recipients are involved in.

    The Awards also provide a platform for:
    • Participants to strengthen their understanding of the importance of quality care, protection and early stimulation in ECD.
    • Advocacy and information dissemination,  the awards provide a communication strategy on the importance of the early years and how to intervene in a child’s life for better child development outcomes socially , cognitively, physically, and emotionally.
    Objectives of the assessment

    The objectives for the study are to:
    • Assess the contribution that the Awards are making in improving the quality of ECD provisioning;
    • Provide a historical record of the Awards from 2003 to 2012;
    • Through an analysis of evidence obtained from participants the assessment will provide evidence on the benefits of the Awards;
    • Provide information on the effectiveness of the Awards  partnership model;
    • At this stage of the Awards history this assignment is important and is a critical exercise that will;
    • Assist in creating a base line for the awards;
    • Contribute to an understanding of the issues and challenges regarding  sustainability of the Awards;
    • Provide information about the Awards that can be shared with relevant role players and stakeholders;
    • Contribute to the awareness about the Awards;
    • Provide previous winners an opportunity to share their perspectives about the awards;
    • Provide evidence about how the Award prizes have been used;
    • Help to assess from a business perspective how the awards are an investment in the sector;
    • Provide recommendations on how the Awards can be improved.
    Scope of the work

    The work assignment will entail documenting the Awards history, procedures and provide an analytical assessment of the specific contributions that the Awards are making to the ECD sector since their inception in 2003.

    The Awards procedures and the various categories will be examined and assessed to understand their relevance and contribution to ECD.

    The assessment will also involve providing specific and general recommendations on the relevance of the Awards, procedures, awards components, partnership, sustainability and impact in the ECD sector.

    The Awards data base has approximately 320 finalists and recipients of the  Awards prizes the assessment will target  30 recipients and their sites as case studies to determine in particular the benefit of the Awards to recipients and their programmes.

    Methodology

    The study methodology will include document analysis and conducting interviews at  national and provincial levels.
    Interviews will be conducted with various role players in the Awards, including entrants, finalists and winners of the Awards, service providers involved in capacity and training programmes for the finalists, and all partners of the Awards.  Using the available data base of  provincial and national applicants for the different Award categories, sampling will have to be applied to conduct interviews, using a set criteria to ensure equitable representation of for example the provinces and the different Awards categories.

    Expected deliverables

    At the end of the assignment it is expected from the service provider to submit:
    1. Data base for the Awards recipients
    2. Information brochure for the Awards
    3. A completed report of the assessment with all the relevant sections
    4. A power point presentation of the assessment report.
    5. A final and  consolidated report of the  review consisting of the following sections: executive summary, introduction, methodology, findings, analysis of findings, recommendations, conclusion, references, annexure
    Desired background and experience
    • Knowledge and experience in research of at least five years with proven experience in conducting evaluations and assessments;
    • Advanced degree in education or social science;
    • Knowledge and experience of the Early Childhood Development sector in South Africa is required;
    • Excellent administrative skills;
    • Good skills in Microsoft Word;
    • Excellent analytical, conceptual and facilitation skills;
    • Excellent and concise writing skills;
    • Willingness to travel and valid driver’s licence;
    • Ability and commitment to work to a tight time frame. 
    Call for proposals

    Proposals will be called from researchers who will be able to complete the assignment successfully.

    The selection of the service provider will be done by the SAECD Awards Steering Committee.

    The proposals called for to include the following:
    1.  Project Description indicating how the service provider analyses the work that will be done and how to go about in achieving the deliverables.
    This part should show sufficient evidence that the service provider understands the works assignment at hand; has analysed the amount of work to be done realistically; has the capacity to implement the work assignment; amongst others. A mere repetition of the Terms of Reference is not acceptable.

    (b)Broad Plan of Action against timeframes and the terms of reference provided
    (c)Budget for the assignment based on the major activities. Provide as much details as possible
    (e)The proposal shall be signed and initialled on every page
     
    In addition to the proposal the following is required from:

    (a)Individual Service Providers:
    1. Curriculum Vitae
    2. Application letter
    3. P11 form
    All proposals shall be submitted electronically to (UNICEF Procurement details to be inserted) before or on the deadline that will be provided. No late submissions will be accepted.

    Evaluation weighting:

                ___60__% technical

                ___40__% financial

                100% total

                (Usually, 60% technical / 40% financial is recommended

    Conditions
    • Local travel and airport transfers (where applicable) will be covered in accordance with UNICEF’s rules and tariffs;
    • Flight costs where applicable will be covered at economy class rate as per UNICEF policies;
    • Please also see UNICEF’s Standard Terms and Conditions attached.
    The payment schedule will be as follows:
    • 40% on submission of preliminary report
    • 60% of the total fee after satisfactory completion of the assignment and submission of satisfactory final report.
    Enquiries: E-mail: safpretoriavacancy@unicef.org.

    To apply, submit an application letter, along with CV and P11 Form (which can also be accessed through the UNICEF website - www.unicef.org), to safpretoriavacancy@unicef.org.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only South African Nationals/candidates who have permanent residence/temporary residence and/or valid work permit for the duration of the contract will be considered.

    Only short listed candidates will be contacted and regret emails will only be sent to interviewed candidates.

    If you have not been contacted within one month of the closing date, please accept that your application was unsuccessful.

    For more about UNICEF, refer to www.unicef.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information.

  • South African Human Rights Commission: Consultant

    South African Human Rights Commission
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, December 31, 2012
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

    The SAHRC seeks the service of a Consultant to conduct a study on the legal standing, independence and capacity of Southern Africa national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to discharge their mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles.

    The consultancy will also focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each NHRI in the region in the prevention of torture.

    Project:

    A region free of torture: “Enhancing the leading role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the prevention of torture and ill‐treatment in Southern Africa”.

    Background

    National Human Rights Institutions (National Human Rights Commissions, Public Protectors or Ombudsmen, hereinafter referred as NHRIs), if established and functioning properly, can be a valuable asset in curbing, preventing and addressing human rights violations in the region, including recommending changes to policies, practices and attitudes. Through this project, the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) intends to formally engage
    NHRIs in the region and the establishment of NHRIs where they do not exist in conformity with the Paris Principles by facilitating the coordination, strengthening and effectiveness of NHRIs in Africa and by encouraging cooperation among NHRIs with intergovernmental institutions.

    This project is also in line with the Open Society Initiative of South Africa (OSISA) strategy to promote and protect human rights, and also bridge the existing gap between NHRIs and civil society organisations (CSOs) particularly considering that CSOs could be used as NHRIs’ ears and eyes, thus complementing each other activities for the benefit of citizens. Because Law enforcement agents are the primary and usual suspects when it comes to human rights violations, either by action or omission, the project also couples this initiative with a tangible activity which resonates with every country in the region, namely the prevention and combating of the scourge of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (hereinafter referred as “torture”) as a bait to bring both the NHRIs and CSOs
    together for a capacity building activity, policy discussion and formulation of partnerships.

    It is with this background that NANHRI in partnership with OSISA intends to engage the services of a consultant to conduct a study on the legal standing, independence and capacity of Southern Africa NHRIs to discharge their mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles. The study will also include a particular focus on strengths and weaknesses of each NHRI in Southern Africa related to the prevention of torture, as a prelude to the project.

    Objectives and scope of assignment

    The objective of the study is to assist NANHRI Secretariat to develop an action plan for providing a regional platform to initiate an holistic engagement with NHRIs in the Southern Africa sub‐region, to interrogate their role in the promotion and protection of human rights, ascertain about their capacity, but also the level of impartiality, independence and effectiveness to deliver, as well as on the prospect of partnerships with relevant stakeholders such as, CSOs, in discharging their mandate. In particular this should include:
    1. Carrying out a baseline study of current level of involvement and capacity of Southern Africa NHRIs to ascertain about the legal standing vis a vis the Paris Principles, their strengths, weaknesses and the capacity of NHRIs to effectively discharge their mandate;
    2. Analyse Southern Africa NHRIs legal standing, independence and capacity to discharge their mandate in as far as promotion and protection of human rights is concerned with specific focus to their engagement in torture prevention;
    3. Identifying gaps on powers and current work of Southern Africa NHRIs in relation to the prevention of torture.
    Proposing recommendations for possible strategic interventions and outline for an action plan for organising the regional platform with the ambition to develop an integrated action plan for the Southern Africa NHRIs, the study should pay particular attention to processes and competent actors within the sub region and the possibilities to cooperate with them in relation to the topics provided above.

    Outputs and deliverables

    The Report submitted will be a comprehensive substantive document, in English, not exceeding 30 pages (excluding possible annexes) containing, inter alia, an executive summary, conclusions and recommendations.

    The document shall include:
    • An analysis of the current level of involvement and capacity of Southern Africa NHRIs to ascertain about the legal standing vis a vis the Paris Principles, their strengths, weaknesses and the capacity of NHRIs to effectively discharge their mandate;
    • An overview of current engagement of NHRIs in Southern Africa in the prevention of torture and ill‐treatment at their national levels;
    • A summary of the assessment of strengths and weaknesses of each NHRI in Southern Africa in relation to the above;
    • An analysis of the current gaps in the capacity of the Southern Africa NHRIs in relation to the above;
    • A summary review of other existing relevant international and regional capacity development programmes;
    • Suggestions on strategies to strengthen the capacity of NHRIs in Southern Africa in relation with the above;
    • A set of proposed clearly defined roles that NHRIs in Southern Africa can play in the prevention of torture and ill‐treatment in Southern Africa;
    • Based on above, a detailed proposed 1 year action plan for providing a regional platform to initiate an holistic engagement with Southern Africa NHRIs, to interrogate their role in the promotion and protection of human rights, ascertain about their capacity, but also the level of impartiality, independence and effectiveness to deliver, as well as on the prospect of partnerships with relevant stakeholders such as, CSOs, in discharging their mandate.
    Methodology and timeframe

    The study should be carried out during the period of 7 January – 28 February 2013. The assignment will include the following:
    • Desk research and review of relevant documentation, including the documentation by the NHRIs in Southern Africa and the feedbacks on the APT‐NANHRI questionnaire on “powers and practice of NAHRI in the prevention of torture”;
    • Telephone interviews with Southern Africa NHRIs and other selected organisations institutions, other beneficiaries and donors, as deemed relevant;
    • Submission to NANHRI of a draft report for comments by 10th February 2013;
    • Submission of the final report to NANHRI within 6 days after the consultant has received comments from NANHRI;
    • Receive and analyse feedback from the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) on questionnaires sent to Southern Africa NHRIs on powers and current work of NHRIs in relation to the prevention of torture.
    Requirements:
    • Advanced University degree in human rights, law, political science or related field;
    • Expert knowledge of mandates, powers and functions of NHRIs;
    • Extensive experience of working with NHRIs in Africa (experience working with NHRIs in Southern Africa would be an advantage);
    • Expertise in the work of NHRIs related to prevention of torture and ill‐treatment;
    • Experience of implementing prevention of torture projects in the field would be an asset;
    • Good understanding of African Union coordination systems and governance structures;
    • Experience of programme development for NHRIs and of conducting studies;
    • evaluations etc, related to NHRIs Comprehensive knowledge of the African Human Rights system;
    • Excellent written and spoken English;
    • Knowledge of French and or Portuguese will be an added asset.
    To apply, submit a CV, motivation letter (making reference to the competence requirements stated in the Terms of Reference), statement on fee requirements and a suggested work plan for the study to gsebihogo@nanhri.org copying rebole@nanhri.org.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about the South African Human Rights Commission, refer to www.sahrc.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information.

  • Gay and Lesbian Network: Senior Outreach Coordinator

    Gay and Lesbian Network
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Monday, January 7, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    The Gay and Lesbian Network is a young and dynamic NGO working towards creating positive change in the wellbeing of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex LGBTI community in Pietermaritzburg and the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

    The Gay and Lesbian Network seeks to appoint a Senior Outreach Coordinator, based in KwaZulu-Natal.

    Responsibilities;
    • Development, coordination and implementation of the Network’s outreach programme;
    • Raising awareness and extending the reach of the programme;
    • Research and resource material development;
    • Identify key strategic external stakeholders who could benefit from the programme;
    • Coordinate, train and mentor volunteer trainers and facilitators;
    • Manage staff, volunteers and budget.
    Requirements:
    • Relevant tertiary qualification or equivalent in community development;
    • Two years working experience at community level;
    • Excellent communication, presentation, research and report writing skills;
    • Knowledge of the NGO sector and experience working with diverse people and organisations;
    • Commitment to the LGBTI sector;
    • Ability to work well under pressure and within a small team environment;
    • Ability to network with key external partners in mainstreaming the Network’s trainings;
    • Computer literate;
    • Proficiency in English and isiZulu preferred.
    To apply, submit a CV, contact details of three referees and motivation letter to director@gaylesbiankzn.org or fax to: 086 508 2203.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about the Gay and Lesbian Network, refer to www.gaylesbiankzn.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SANGONeT strengthens and supports the work of thousands of NGOs in South Africa through various ICT, capacity-building and networking activities. Please support our work with a donation and encourage others to do the same.

     

  • ‘Marrying Your Rapist is Not Justice’ - NGOs

    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
  • Violent Forms of Ukuthwala Reveal Longstanding Brutality Against Women

    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
    Author(s): 
    Nyasha Karimakwenda
Syndicate content