By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Shadow MEC for Safety and Security:
The high levels of sexual voice against women and children are a sad reflection of how skewed our moral values have become in South Africa today. Once again, another 16 days of activism of no violence against women and children has been declared, but can one honestly say the situation is getting any better?
Women and children want real freedom: this means to wear what you want and to walk where you want without feeling unsafe and without being objectified as a potential sexual trophy.
Over the last five years, according to the SAPS official crime statistics, over 45 000 sexual offences have been reported in the Eastern Cape. This means at least 25 sexual offences are reported each day in the province. The vast majority of which are rapes. If one considers that rape is highly under-reported, with some statistics suggesting that only one in nine rapes are reported, one gets a picture of a society whose moral values are in tatters, with young women in particular, living in fear. We need a total war on rape to deal with this barbaric onslaught.
As a society and as a province we must start taking greater responsibility. Some steps that will make an impact are:
- An intensive education campaign at school level to instil value and respect for women. Religious and civic leaders in society need to also take up the issue of patriarchy.
- The annual statistics released by the SAPS must make provision to specify rape. Research and legislative requirements must be put in place so that the annual reports reflect not only how many rape cases are reported but how many cases go to court and how many lead to conviction. As small minority of reported cases are successfully prosecuted.
- Police officers must receive training annually on the sexual offences act. They also need to make women feel comfortable in reporting cases and that they will be treated humanely. Women don’t want feel abused twice, once by the perpetrators and secondly by the SAPS.
- There must be strong provincial funding for NPOs that deal with gender-based violence.
- Policies must be put in place within department s to deal with sexual violence and abuse. The sex-for-jobs investigation in the Eastern Cape has simply petered out.
- There needs to be effective coordination and professionalism in the chain between reporting the case, the hospitals and the forensic laboratories and to the court room. Many cases fall between the cracks and are weakened as a result of the chain being broken.
Dealing with sexual offences against women and children requires a holistic approach. This means society as a whole needs to be mobilised to deal with this scourge.