President Cyril Ramaphosa declares three important laws that will strengthen the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) and give greater protection to victims of domestic violence.
The new laws, namely the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act, the Criminal Law (Sex Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Act and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act were enacted in beginning of this year.
Addressing the National Women’s Day event held in Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, President Ramaphosa said the new laws empower police to enter premises without a warrant and , if necessary, to arrest a suspect.
Under the new laws, police can also remove a suspect’s dangerous weapons and complainants will be able to apply for protective orders online.
“New provisions expand the scope of the National Sex Offender Registry and place a legal responsibility on all of us to report any sexual offenses committed against vulnerable people. There are now much stricter conditions under which a suspect can be released on bail [and] the perpetrators will be given harsher sentences,” President Ramaphosa stressed.
The president said GBV is a stain on the day’s celebrations, adding that hardly a day goes by without women being attacked, raped and killed by men.
The president argued that this should not be seen as a women’s issue, “when in fact it is a men’s issue”.
“It’s a problem of men who have no respect for women, who feel they can do whatever they want with their girlfriends or partners because they buy them airtime or This is a problem for men who don’t have the maturity to accept the end of a relationship and stalk their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends.
“It’s a problem of men who think that culture, custom and religion allow them to hit their wives, sisters and daughters and deprive them of their rights. It’s a problem of men who occupy positions of influence and authority that prey on women and take advantage of it.”
Silence is no longer an option
The President called on every South African to play their part in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide by speaking out.
He warned that silence is no longer an option and encouraged citizens to break the silence.
“Silence is the dark corner in which women and children are abused, beaten, raped and killed. Silence is the dark cloud under which men allow their friends to abuse women, children and community members LGBTQIA+. [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual+] community as a demonstration of their manhood.
“Silence is the cancer that eats away women who protect their husbands, sons, partners and boyfriends who abuse them, their children and other women because they are financially dependent.”
Enable women to participate in the economy
President Ramaphosa said the government was working to enable women to participate in the economy.
He said gender equality will only be achieved if women are financially secure and independent.
He pointed out that in uMgungundlovu District Municipality, the government is providing temporary work opportunities for women through the community works program, expanded public works program and by supporting community carers and community health workers. .
He said women entrepreneurs, especially small business owners, are supported by the province’s rural and township economy revitalization strategy.
“The provincial government, through the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation Program, is also helping women to access land for agriculture and bring their produce to market. So far, it has helped more than 3,500 farmers, the majority of whom are women and young people from rural areas, like uMgungundlovu.”
Helping Women-Owned Businesses
Meanwhile, the president announced that the government had pledged to set aside 40% of public procurement spending for women-owned businesses.
“We have held workshops across the country to equip women with the skills to do business with government and the private sector. Between September this year and January next year, we plan to reach all 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal.”
To ensure better access to finance, President Ramaphosa added that the government wants entities, including the Industrial Development Corporation, the Public Investment Corporation and the National Empowerment Fund, to make more resources available to women-owned businesses.
(With contributions from the South African government press release)