To appreciate the prevalence of violence against women and children (VWC) in South Africa, we need statistics to move from ‘numbers’ to ‘people’.  South Africa's statistics show three women die at the hands of their partners every day in South Africa and nearly half of women across South Africa are subjected to violence by an intimate partner.

Just looking around this Parliament we can be sure most of us have intimate knowledge of this happening to people we know, and a significant number of us will have experienced it personally. We are a people who bear emotional and physical scars, who have known a desperation to get away - or the need to get loved ones to somewhere safe.

#HearMeToo - the theme for this year’s campaign - ties in with the global #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

The director of the Children's Institute (Shanaaz Mathews) says that if our children are to reach their full potential - and the cycle of intergenerational violence is to be broken - South Africa must consider solutions that are collaborative.

Also calling for collaborative solutions is Kenneth Lukuko, project leader for building an inclusive society at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. He asks what happens or what should society do after conviction of a perpetrator - and whether we do enough to understand what reproduces behaviours known as ‘toxic masculinities’ in our society.  He points out - we should not dismiss the impact of widespread trauma and mental health problems amongst men.

While there are many causes and multiple factors to the violence - often exacerbated by alcohol, and drug abuse - there is general consensus that we should be looking for behavioural patterns and harmful gender norms that give men a sense of permission to use violence against women and children.

While research is being done and long term approaches developed, practical and urgent needs exist - like the need for housing for women and children who are being bashed and bloodied - to escape the bullies.

Having appealed to several Ministers over the past four years - today the ACDP is appealing to you Mr President. We know you have been deeply moved; you said “hurt and ashamed”, by the personal accounts of abuse you heard at your Summit on Gender Based Violence and Femicide in Centurion last week.

We know that children who witness their mothers being abused in the home or who are abused themselves are more likely to harm women and children later in life; safe state housing provides an escape that would provide them with a hope and a future.

There is a desperately needed Special Needs Housing Policy that needs your urgent attention - it has been ready and waiting for a MINMEC and signature of approval for over 47 months.

Getting this policy approved and implemented, Mr President, would immediately assist those working on the ground to turn the situation around and offer real help in the face of real danger.

The ACDP appeals to you to intervene and get this policy approved and implemented.


28 November 2018