16 Days of Activism: It’s a fight for communities to win

Safiyia Stanfley, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Gender

The Democratic Alliance wants to urge every single member of our communities to participate in the campaign against abuse of women and children. The launch of the 16 Days of Activism campaign reminds us that vigilance against violence is a daily task and not a once-off event. We encourage communities to report abuse when and where it occurs, so that perpetrators can be caught and victims given the support they need.

We need to better capacitate the police and prosecuting authority so that perpetrators can be caught and prosecuted. Currently, the cases before criminal courts take too long to adjudicate and victims are not receiving the closure or support they need. The Public Service Commission recently undertook an investigation of regional courts in the province. The findings were bleak. Our provincial courts cannot finalise more cases than they receive each year. This means that every year there is a growing backlog of court cases taking longer and longer to finalise. Since 2008, the amount of outstanding cases has remained more or less constant at about a third of all cases.

Violence against women and children is becoming an everyday occurrence. It is no longer shocking to hear about a brutal rape or a violent murder. We must continue to be outraged about every instance of abuse and we must continue to demand that all victims receive justice. We need communities not to turn a blind eye to abuse, but to report it. Communities must be actively involved in the prevention of crime and the provision of adequate support to victims.

We also need to investigate the socio-economic factors which can prompt acts of abuse. According to the provincial police commission, Lieutenant-General Janet Basson, the use of alcohol is a factor in 43% of arrests on sexual offence charges. We welcome the recent undertaking by 200 liquor license holders in the province, who have pledged to play their part in the prevention of alcohol abuse. We hope to see a committed, concentrated effort from the departments of Health, Social Development and Education as well as the Northern Cape Liquor Board to embark on social responsibility campaigns which will teach communities about the importance of responsible alcohol use.

Ultimately, the fight against abuse is one that communities need to win.