The Interim Steering Committee on Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) has identified key actions that will drive a joint emergency response by government and civil society to the crisis of gender based violence and femicide in the country.
The committee comprises a range of government departments and entities; civil society organisations focused on GBVF; research institutions; development agencies and other organisations.
The committee met in Pretoria on the 26 and 27 September 2019 to finalise the National Strategic Plan developed after the Presidential GBVF Summit of November 2018 and to incorporate the resolutions of the Summit into the Emergency Response Action Plan on GBVF that will inform the work of government and civil society in the next six months. The Committee also met again on the 17th of October 2019, this time to unpack the approach to deliver on the Emergency Response Action Plan using the Rapid Results Institute methodology.
The 2018 Summit which brought together delegates of more than 400 organisations who committed themselves to decisive and collective action to end gender based violence in the country.
More recently, in the wake of a countrywide spate of incidents of gender based violence, President Ramaphosa responded to protests against gender based violence and convened a Joint Sitting of Parliament to allow elected public officials to deliberate on measures to end this national scourge.
The President announced that the Interim Steering Committee would lead implementation of an emergency response to gender based violence.
The Pretoria meeting discussed arrangements for the implementation of a range of actions in the coming six months, enabled by a budget of R1, 1 billion allocated by government.
Among the actions agreed are:
The clearing of backlogs at forensic laboratories related to GBVF and especially sexual assault;
The hiring of additional staff for sexual offences courts, Thuthuzela Care Centres and Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations Units;
The procurement of evidence collection kits (paediatric rape kits, adult rape kits and buccal sample kits); and Behaviour change interventions to influence changed behaviour for men and boys, while involving all sectors of society;
The establishment of at least one shelter per province to accommodate people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex or queer;
The immediate roll out of training on victim centric, survivor focused services, with a specific drive to train police, prosecutors, magistrates and policy makers;
The establishment of a GBVF Fund for rapid response to assist survivors at the community level, including access to justice through Legal Aid.
The steering committee will involve all sectors of society in the implementation of the Emergency Response Action Plan to ensure that individuals take responsibility for their behaviour and that organisations and institutions of civil society and government undertake programmes to prevent abuse of and violence against women and children.
The criminal justice system and social partners in this sector will also be geared to deal more effectively with cases where abuse and violence are reported and where support is required for victims and survivors.
Source: Government of South Africa