Survivors of gender-based violence accommodated in shelters are subsidised by R30 per day per women. R30 is supposed to cover 3 meals per day, including children’s food, and pay for all the others needs of women and their children in the shelter. The burden is on NGOs providing sheltering services to constantly fundraise so that survivors can have access to holistic care. This means that NGOs who cannot source additional funds for survivors will have to stretch R30 and ensure survivors’ needs are covered. This scenario is so real to survivors of gender-based violence because most of them have been beaten to a pulp by the partner because the R100 given to them in the beginning of the month ended the same day. The R100 is expected to last the whole month and provide nutritious meal for the whole month.
Twenty years after former President Mandela was released from prison and said to the nation” I stand before you not as a prophet but as your servant” how we wish that the current government would commit to serving the nation. The statistics indicate that violence against women and children has reached alarming rates. Is there political will to end the scourge ravaging our nation? The answer is NO. South Africa’s state of the nation address under president Zuma on 11 February 2010 did not even once mention that violence against women is a problem in South Africa. This clearly shows that there is no political will to end gender-based violence.
A week later, South Africa’s 2010/11 budget is presented and the budget is gender blind and perpetuates the same gender stereotypes and roles for women. The budget promotes inequality and promotes the feminisation of poverty. To illustrate government’s indifference to the plight of women in South Africa, I will highlight 3 priority areas sited in the budget:
- Enhancing the health of our people. This point only focuses on HIV and AIDS and improving hospital infrastructure. Ignoring the impact of sexual and gender-based violence on the health system is not going to make the problem go away. Sexual and gender-based violence aggravate the burden on the health system through the high rate of women contracting high blood pressure, ulcers, psychological problems and increased HIV other sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, focusing only on HIV and AIDS and hospital infrastructure does even begin to deal with the health problems faced by women and the strain on the system.
- Making our communities safer. It is acknowledged that crime is a problem in our country, but throughout the president’s speech and the budget speech, SGBV is not a factor despite the fact that 1 in 4 women is abused by an intimate partner, a women is raped every 32 seconds and a women is killed every 6 minutes. How do we begin to even deal with crime when the highest office in our country does not acknowledge that sexual and gender-based violence is a scourge in our country and one of the highest statistics in the country’s crime statistics.
- Creating jobs. Government prioritises creating jobs through the Expanded Public Works Programme. The programme recruits unemployed women to volunteer as care givers in Home Community Based Care (HCBC) and Early Childhood Development (ECD). Both programmes “employ” on a volunteer basis the highest number of women who are paid stipends ranging from R500 - R1 000. Through this programme women are still channelled to fulfil the same gender stereotype roles of mothering and caring for others. The individualisation of their dreams and aspiration is not considered because of their poor backgrounds. Women should accept the opportunity presented by the Expanded Public Works Programme because “half a loaf is better than nothing”.
The plan is also to create youth employment for inexperienced youth through subsidising employers and NGOs. Still the plan is not gendered and does not guarantee that young women will benefit. Once again NGOs are tasked to create jobs with little support. The government funding model has not been reviewed and NGOs having been calling for its review for years. The funding model does not recognise that services provided by NGOs are services that should be provided by government for its citizens. The funding model puts the burden on NGOs to constantly compete for funds which lead to disintegration of services to beneficiaries and high staff turnover and exploitation of employees.
Until that moment when the political leadership acknowledges that sexual and gender-based violence is a huge problem in our country, South Africa is never going to be a safe place for women and for raising a better nation. Women’s urgency and effective inclusion in all decision-making structures has to be prioritised otherwise sexual and gender-based violence is always going to excruciatingly be part of living in South Africa.
People Opposing Women Abuse