Rape survivors treated unfairly in court‚ warns Commission for Gender Equality

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) will approach the judiciary and the General Council of the Bar (GCB) to discuss the “unfair” treatment of rape victims in court.

The decision follows an outcry over how defence lawyer Peter Dauberman questioned Cheryl Zondi‚ one of several alleged victims of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso.

Dauberman has since the start of cross-examination been accused of discrediting Zondi’s evidence and asking her insensitive questions.

Omotoso‚ 60‚ and his co-accused Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ face a litany of charges ranging from sexual assault to rape and human trafficking.

“Although the Commission for Gender Equality respects the independence of the judiciary‚ gender blindness cannot be used as a source of inadvertent secondary victimisation‚” said commission chairperson Lulama Nare.

“The commission will continue to raise this pertinent question with the magistrates commission‚ bar council and the judiciary as a whole on the unfairness that rape survivors go through whilst giving testimonies.

“It is plainly unfair to subject them to such inhumane treatment‚ whereas those who did the act are treated favourably.”

Nare said the commission had always argued that “even if the intention is to seek justice by laying women bare in courts‚ the same justice-seeking mechanisms should not allow prejudice and patriarchal nuances to find expression in the course of seeking the truth.

“This will send a very clear message to other young women who are victims and survivors of sexual abuse. This young girl is determined to speak out about it and this does not happen often.

“The accused‚ Timothy Omotoso‚ is having a lot of support. She is speaking her mind without fear or favour. She is determined to speak the truth‚” said Nare.

“I hope the law protects this girl.”

– Nomahlubi Jordaan

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