rights

rights

  • SAOPF Criticises ANN7’s Advert

    The South African Older Persons Forum (SAOPF) has laid a formal complaint against Africa News Network 7 (ANN7), saying a billboard along the N1 near Sandton discriminated against the elderly.

    The forum lodged separate complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying the television channel’s advertisement humiliated people and violated the law.

    On the giant billboard is a picture of an elderly man with the words: “We are not old farts... Nah, not even our presenters.”

    To read the article titled, “ANN7 billboard is discriminatory – group,” click here.

    Source: 
    IOL News
  • Corporal Punishment on the Rise in SA

    According to the Statistics South Africa’s latest General Household Survey, corporal punishment of school pupils is on the rise in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

    The 2012 report, finds that nationally, 15.8 percent of pupils experienced corporal punishment at school during that year.

    The survey also points out that the practice was most common in the Eastern Cape (30.3 percent), KwaZulu-Natal (21.4 percent), and Free State (18.4 percent).

    To read the article titled, “Caning on the rise - expert,” click here.

    Source: 
    The Citizen
  • DENOSA Urges the NCOP to Consider Amending the LRA Amendment Bill

    The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) would like to support the union federation Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in urging the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to amend subsection 69(12) (c) of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, as it grants the powers to the Labour Court to suspend a protected strike or picket entirely instead of interdicting the specific unlawful actions within a strike or picket.

    DENOSA believes this clause serves as a punitive measure and equates to clipping the wings of the labour unions from exercising their rights, given that the resort to strike is often as a result of the failure to implement the collective bargaining agreements. 

    Also, what is of huge concern to DENOSA about this Bill is the amendment of Section 69(1) of the current Act, which provides that a trade union may authorise a picket by its members and supporters. The Bill has scrapped ‘supporters’, which basically disintegrates the essence of solidarity among unions during a strike or picket.

    This amendment is a stab at the heart of unions, and further minimises the powers and importance of labour representation, and which makes us to believe that government is heeding the call by big business fraternity to relax labour laws. This does not auger well for the workers.

    There are a number of collective bargaining agreements that have not been implemented within the agreed timeframes at the chambers, which have become a main source of frustration to both unions and workers (in our case, these includes Uniform Allowance, Pay Progression and translation as per the OSD for nurses).

    By granting the Labour Court the carte blanche to suspend a protected strike or picket, as opposed to the interdiction of a specific act within a strike or picket as enshrined in the current Act, the Bill eliminates the option for labour unions to express their unhappiness over non-implementation of collective bargaining agreements.   

    The Bill will now go through to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), where if it is approved as it is, it will then be signed by the President to become an Act. DENOSA hopes the NCOP will find it in its consciousness to amend this disturbing subsection, which reverses the rights that the millions of workers have worked so hard for over the years.  

    Ends

    For more information contact:
     
    Sibongiseni Delihlazo
    Communications Manager
    Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa
    Mobile: 079 875 2663
    E-mail: sibongisenid@denosa.org.za

    For more about the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, refer to www.denosa.org.za

    To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.

    Date published: 
    26/08/2013
    Organisation: 
    Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa
  • Cry, the Beloved Country; Cry, the Beloved Federation

    As the anniversary of the Marikana massacre dawns, this week has also seen the anniversary of one of the watershed moments in the resistance movement during the 1980s – also led by the workers. One can only hope that this latest watershed can be managed by extraordinary leadership that can guide us to much-needed development in our country, without further bloodshed.

    Two events, separated by two-and-a-half decades, define our journey to democracy.

    One year ago I wrote: “The headlines scream, 'Marikana Massacre'; 'Killing Fields of Rustenburg'. Radio and television talk shows and social media all display the anger and expose the psyche of a nation badly wounded. The bloodiest security operation since the end of Apartheid has left us shocked and asking what went wrong. The reality is, many things went wrong. Way too many things went wrong, for way too long now.”

    I journey back to 1987, the year of worker discontent. It had been less than a decade since black workers had a legal right to join trade unions. Starting from small beginnings the various strands had come together into a fighting force united by the repression of a brutal regime and the exploding anger against an arbitrary and exploitative cheap labour system, ruled by an authoritarian management system.

    The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), barely two years old, the product of painstaking discussions, did not have the luxury of birth pangs. Its launch prophecy, to ‘rise like a giant to confront all that stood in its way’, had become a magnet for workers. It plunged into battle.

    The country was on fire. Tens of thousands of retail and railway workers had launched rolling mass action that year, fuelled by the COSATU Living Wage campaign. Seeing COSATU as the most serious internal threat to its power, the Apartheid state, masterminded by its Minister of Police, imploded our headquarters in one of the most powerful explosive blasts, hoping to permanently disrupt our logistics and organisational capacity. But we were undeterred. We would not be cowed.

    Years of organisation building, education training had built an army of tens of thousands of COSATU shop stewards connected by an umbilical cord to needs, aspirations and hopes of workers on the shop floor. We were ready. We stood fist to fist ready to slug it out in spite of many leaders being victimised, detained and offices bombed. Our survival was driven from the ground. We did not run our organisation through press conferences. There was no twitter or Facebook.

    9 August 1987 was a cold morning. The frost hung in the air like a second skin. We were tense. It was our moment of storming the Bastille of Apartheid. A total of 360 000 mine workers marched over the shaft floor in disciplined regiments. What followed in the next 21 days shook the foundations of Apartheid. Close to 50 000 workers were dismissed and shipped back to the homelands and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, their leaders blacklisted forever. This was our life. Going on strike often meant that or death. It was a conscious choice.

    While we lost the battle, it was a watershed that would define the war and the eventual negotiations process. The system was ready to implode. A political stalemate had been reached, on the shop floor and in the country. Our choice was a descent into a full-scale racial civil war of a scorched earth or a political negotiation.
    Thankfully, guided by the extraordinary leadership of Nelson Mandela on our side, we chose the latter.

    Turn the clock 25 years to 16 August 2012, and what we have is Marikana. It is the pinnacle of a growing ferment in our land. The people in our workplaces, townships, rural areas and squatter camps are bitter that democracy has not delivered the fruits that they see a tiny elite enjoying. Our leaders across the spectrum are not talking to our people, they are not working with them systematically to solve their problems, in providing the hope that one day, even in their children’s lives, things will be better. It is a debilitating threat not from enemies outside, but those who lurk within our bosom.

    Thousands of workers are deserting our COSATU unions. They have lost trust in their branch leaders. I have been in many places where I am personally told: ‘Comrade, we do not see union organisers. We do not know what is happening in our union. Our leaders are too involved in politics and we do not get the services and education we did in the past.’

    It is true. Union leadership is more engaged in looking up to the political jockeying than down to the base of its members where its real strength on the shop floor gives it voice. We cannot hide the disunity and divisions that cripple COSATU today.

    Alongside millions of South Africans I feel bitterly disappointed. There is a deep-seated anger growing in the country. And yet the leaders are not at the coal face. People feel robbed of their voices and powerless.

    In the absence of strong, legitimate political organisation in the communities, they see violence as the only language their leaders will listen to. It is a vicious cycle that sees our people burning down any institution representing the state, whether a school, a library or a public building.

    Marikana is but a festering sore on the body politic of our country. These are not issues that a judicial commission will resolve. It requires political action first and foremost from our political and union leaders. There are some tough choices to make.

    Like we had in the 1990s, to set up a National Peace Accord to deal with a torrent of violence as covert forces sought to destabilise the transition. It was a roadmap based on a set of political principles that established freedom of speech and assembly. But it had the structures that brought together the contesting parties and the state especially the security forces. We had a roadmap that instilled confidence in our communities, compelled us to work together in structures that brought the key protagonists together and created a battalion of peace monitors drawn from all parties that ensured we isolated those who sought to deepen the divisions amongst our people.

    My greatest fear is that the massacre at Marikana has become the watershed of our post-Apartheid journey. It has wrought untold physical, financial and psychological damage on all sides and on our social fabric. But if this is not acknowledged and we continue our drift towards the shrill language of divisive finger pointing and muddled leadership and we will end up where we were in 1990.

    My greatest hope is that in these extraordinary times, we ask that extraordinary leaders rise from our ranks and take those extraordinary actions to put our country back to the path we set to deliver the better life that we promised our people in 1994. As the proverbial Phoenix, we will rise from burning ashes of broken promises and rebuild the trust with our citizens. And to do this with the absence of political arrogance and with a humility and an honesty that compels us to serve not the interests of leaders but the interests of our people.

    - Jay Naidoo is founding General Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions, former Minister in the Mandela Government and Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). You can follow him on Twitter, or visit his Facebook Page or www.jaynaidoo.org.
    Author(s): 
    Jay Naidoo
  • SALRC Appointments Focus on the Poor

    The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development says that the new appointments in the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) will see more emphasis on the rights of poorer people, women and children.

    The department’s Deputy Minister, John Jeffrey, the appointments will also translate into emphasis on issues around access to justice as the focus of the law has changed since 1994.

    Jeffrey says that the role of the commission continues to be to study research work done by staff and add value to it.

    To read the article titled, “SALRC new appointments to focus on rights of poor, women and children,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • Graça Comments on Women Inequality

    Graça Machel, wife of former president Nelson Mandela, says she is ashamed that issues of gender inequality in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have not ceased.

    Machel is of the view that efforts by the United Nations Security Council to see a decrease in rape in the DRC have not yet yielded any success.

    Speaking at the Young Women in Dialogue conference held in Freedom Park, Pretoria, Machel noted that while the country upheld customary laws, some of those laws still perceive women in an inferior manner.

    To read the article titled, “Graça addresses newomen inequality,” click here.

    Source: 
    News 24
  • NGO Tackles FGM, Early Marriages

    Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) is implementing an ambitious project aimed at saving schoolgirls from the menace of female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriages and HIV/AIDS in Tanzania’s Mara Region.

    The project dubbed ‘Strengthen Girls Network and Clubs in Response to Child Marriage, FGM and HIV Prevention Strategies’, is targeting public schools.
    Project coordinator, Fransisca Silayo, made the revelation during a special function organised by the NGO to provide anti- FGM, early marriages and HIV/AIDS education to female pupils.

    To read the article titled, “NGO steps up fight against FGM, early marriages,” click here.

    Source: 
    All Africa
  • HelpAge International: Regional Director - EWCA

    HelpAge International
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Tuesday, August 27, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    HelpAge International is an international NGO that helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. With more than 90 affiliates and 300 partners across more than 60 countries the HelpAge International network brings together hundreds of organisations worldwide. HelpAge International has a secretariat with offices in London and Brussels, regional centres in Africa, East Asia/Pacific, South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central Asia, twenty national programmes and a number of emergencies programmes.

    HelpAge International in South Africa seeks to appoint a Regional Director, East West and Central Africa (EWCA), based in Nairobi, Kenya with regular travel around the region.

    The EWCA Regional Development Centre works with a range of partners across Africa to deliver programming in a number of key areas including HIV/AIDS & health, income security, emergency response and rights of older people.
     
    This is an accompanied three-year contract position with possible extension.

    This is an exciting opportunity represent HelpAge International’s interests in the EWCA region and develop and establish a regional programme in line with global strategies.
     
    Responsibilities:
    • Support members and partners efforts to strengthen the organisational capacity, participation and influence of disadvantaged older people in the region;
    • Lead a diverse team to develop programmes and policy work in the region in line with regional and global targets.
    Requirements:
    • Experience of international development and/or humanitarian work, including extensive experience in Africa;
    • Proven leadership skills and the ability to manage a team, across cultures and at a distance;
    • Extensive experience in advocacy and fundraising, as well as experience in strategic planning, budgeting and reporting;
    • Willingness to travel extensively within the region is also essential for this role.
    Salary: £40 000 gross per annum plus a benefits package.
     
    First stage interviews will be held between 3-5 September 2013.

    Starting date: As soon as possible.

    For full job description and to apply, refer to www.helpage.org/RDewcaaug13.
     
    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    HelpAge International is an equal opportunities employer.

    For more about HelpAge International, refer to www.helpage.org.

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

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

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  • Call for Angola to Drop Charges Against Journo

    A rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Angola to drop criminal defamation charges against an investigative journalist who wrote a book on human rights abuses in Angola's diamond-rich region.
     
    The organisation states that Rafael Marques de Morais attended a hearing on 31 July 2013 for 10 new lawsuits that were brought against him, along with one pre-existing suit.
     
    The lawsuits revolve around a book that alleges Angolan generals own a diamond company and a security firm that carried out killings and the torture of workers toiling in the southern African nation's mines.
     
    To read the article titled, “Rights group calls on Angola to drop charges against journalist,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times Live
  • Social Media, Rape Culture, and How Women Fight Back

    The recent suspension and dismissal of FHM editor, Max Barashenkov, and editorial assistant, Montle Moorosi, for having made a joke out of ‘corrective rape’ on the former’s Facebook page, come at a point at which the border between our public and private lives is not only blurred by our participation in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but in an age where violence against women has run rampant. The public was particularly sensitive to the above remarks in light of the recent corrective rape of a Thokoza lesbian, Duduzile Zozo, who was found murdered, with a toilet brush lodged in her vagina. At least 31 lesbian women have been brutally murdered in the last 10 years and a reported 10 lesbians are raped or gang-raped a week in Cape Town alone.

    Yet these are not isolated incidents of gender-based violence (GBV). South Africa is infamously known as the ‘rape capital’ of the world - not an unfounded title for a country in which women are more likely to be raped than able to read and there are an estimated 500 000 rapes annually. In a country where young women are sexually assaulted at a taxi rank for wearing miniskirts, politicians are routinely implicated in rape cases and alleged victims are slut-shamed, businessmen eat sushi off of practically naked women, lesbians are victims of ‘corrective rape’, and the opposition’s female parliamentarians are attacked in a sexist and misogynist manner for their ‘fashion sense’, rape culture seems to have become part of South Africa’s everyday. According to Lynn Phillips, a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Communication Department, rape culture may be defined as “a culture in which dominant cultural ideologies, media images, social practices, and societal institutions support and condone sexual abuse by normalising, trivialising and eroticising male violence against women and blaming victims for their own abuse.”
     
    A 2011 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report entitled ‘We’ll Show You You’re a Woman: Violence and Discrimination against Black Lesbians and Transgender Men in South Africa’, revealed that lesbians and transgender men are exposed to widespread discrimination and violence on a daily basis, from both private individuals and government officials. Even more surprising is how these perpetrators act with almost total impunity. The wholly ignorant remarks made by African National Congress Women’s League’s (ANCWL) chairperson, Lindiwe Khonjelwayo, regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community’s pursuit of equal rights, which she has termed as ‘too aggressive’, that is, the LGBTI community was ‘asking for’ the abuse it received, only further emphasise this community’s ostracism, despite laws having been implemented to guarantee their equal rights. That GBV in South Africa also extends to include LGBTI people, seems to suggest that not only does South African society have a rampant rape culture, where GBV is often blamed on the victim, and not only are parts of South African society oppressive and violent toward women, but that any gender or sexual-orientation that deviates from the patriarchal norm is subject to abuse. This damaging attitude is what French writer and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir, termed ‘Othering’, that is, an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ situation, whereby the latter are seen as less human, or somehow less worthy of respect than the former, and are treated accordingly.

    In an age of rapidly advancing technology, rape culture has adapted itself, now readily found on social media, which appears to have become its new playground, a trend most recently exemplified in South Africa by the FHM writers, Barashenkov and Moorosi, who made a joke out of corrective rape on Facebook. However, this rampant rape culture has also received well-deserved backlash via these same channels in which its netizens seem to revile women these days: be it via Twitter, Facebook or websites and blogs, women have begun firing back at a culture in which they are oppressed, violated and abused, simply as a result of their gender.
     
    The Everyday Sexism Project, launched in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2012, is on Twitter (#everydaysexism) as well as Facebook, and provides ordinary women with a space to share their daily experiences with sexism. This particular social media movement has grown to include 15 countries, including South Africa. Nicole, a 17-year-old from South Africa, writes, “Walked past a church building in Stellenbosch, SA. A man behind the gate wags his exposed penis at me as I pass”, representing only a fraction of those stories shared globally, but all with the same origin: sexism and misogyny toward women. The United Nations (UN) also joined the likes of these movements, using social media to promote its cause - in this case, #orangeday is used to promote the secretary-general’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, which started in July 2012, on the 25th of every month. 
     
    There are also social media movements targeting the platforms themselves, attempting to make these spaces safer for women. The Twitter campaign #FBRape, also started by The Everyday Sexism Project, highlights Facebook’s flawed guidelines, which banned hate speech but not offensive remarks about sexual assault. After several companies pulled their advertisements from the social network site after being informed by the campaign that their ads appeared on pages promoting GBV, Facebook announced it would change its lop-sided policies. There is also a global movement called Take Back the Tech, which seeks to show how information communications technologies (ICTs) are used to oppress women, but more importantly, focuses on empowering women on these very same platforms. South African nonprofit organisation, Women’sNet, started a local ‘Take Back the Tech’ campaign in 2009, featuring during the 16 Days of Activism (25 November to 10 December).
     
    Social media has thus been used successfully to campaign against sexism, misogyny, and GBV. However, it is Germaine Greer who famously said: “Women have very little idea of how much men hate them”, that is, until social media came along. Many women who campaign against GBV and related issues have experienced the full thrust of a society of men that has been raised within the confines of rape culture. Anita Sarkeesian, whose video webseries ‘Feminist Frequency’ explores and deconstructs the representations, stereotypes, and tropes associated with women in pop culture narratives, was viciously abused and sexually harassed online, with Internet users creating a game entitled ‘Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian’, as well as disseminating photoshopped images of Sarkeesian in sexually demeaning positions. All this was in reaction to her Kickstarter campaign for people to, I must emphasise, - voluntarily fund -, research in the area of ‘Tropes vs Women in Videogames’. Caroline Criado-Perez, who in July 2013 successfully campaigned for women to be included on English banknotes, was subjected to a bombardment of abusive tweets in response to her win, including rape and death threats. This in turn prompted an online petition to introduce a ‘report abuse’ button on Twitter, which more than 66 000 people have signed to date, putting the social media platform under pressure to make its user more accountable. Examples of such appalling behaviour toward women who openly fight for their right to be treated with respect and equality are unfortunately a common occurrence these days.
     
    Will such aggression and GBV-behaviour also be the fate of those South African women who start movements for change on social media? The banning of the movie ‘Of Good Report’ - due to be premiered at the Durban International Film Festival (Diff) in July 2013 - by the Film and Publication Board (FPB), by reason of its supposed portrayal of ‘child pornography’, as well as the fact that President Jacob Zuma only in February 2013 made more than a passing reference to the rape crisis in his State of the Nation speech - the first time since coming into power in 2009 -,  not only symbolise South Africa’s discomfort with tackling issues of a sexual nature head-on, but the country’s overall ‘let's try to pretend this is not happening’ attitude, which is anything if not detrimental in a country where child abuse and GBV need to be dealt with openly and directly. It seems to me that if feminist movements were to attempt to make fundamental changes to the societal fabric of South Africa through social media, as it has been done in the UK and Germany, there would most definitely be a backlash just as violent and virulent, if not more so, with rape culture raising its ugly head where women try to make a substantial difference.
     
    Yet this is not the only problem potential South African movements looking to challenge the state of GBV or other related issues would face when campaigning on social media platforms. Despite having climbed two places in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2013 ‘Global Information Technology Report’, namely from 72nd to 70th out of the 144 countries surveyed, South Africa scores poorly when it comes to ICT skills (102nd), affordability (104th), and individual usage (81st). If social media movements within South Africa are to make some impact, access to, as well as the skills to use ICTs successfully, need to be in place. The communities and women who are most at risk when it comes to GBV are unfortunately also the ones with the least amount of ICT access and expertise. Bridging the digital (gender) divide in South Africa is therefore not only instrumental to engendering much-needed social change, but also increasingly critical to the impact a social media movement will make, especially in the day and age of ever advancing technology, where global civil society, and most importantly, the ordinary person looking for a way to make a difference, are just a mouse click away.

    -  Laura Kapelari is SANGONeT’s International Human Rights Exchange intern. 

    Author(s): 
    Laura Kapelari
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