During October and November the National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence and femicide was assessed at both provincial and national level to determine progress made in the last four years.
At the Presidential Summit, held from November 1-2, it was revealed that the establishment of GBV desks and availability of rape kits at all police stations was still not in place.
Reflecting on the national summit, Dr Lesley Ann Foster, the director for Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, said “the reports by ministers [at the President Summit] were not always clear and some provided information that was not accurate”.
“What this told us is that some work is being carried out but there is a lack of clarity on what strategies are working and how they should be reported on.”
Foster said the summit was effective in that it provided government ministers with the opportunity to listen to people on the ground.
“In 2023, the public are likely to see local government authorities such as ward councillors responding to the scourge by employing strategies to address it.
“I think we are likely to see an acceleration of responses at all levels,” said Foster.
A Provincial Summit was held from October 19-20 and Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane committed to accelerating the establishment of the DNA lab; training healthcare and security workers on correct terms of engagement with GBV and femicide survivors; implementing more effective reporting measures for sign-language speakers and those with disabilities; implementing more mentorship programmes for boys and young men; and supporting the moral regeneration movement by getting more churches and traditional leaders involved in curbing GBV.
Mabuyane said the Premier’s Office assisted in co-ordinating role players involved in addressing GBV and was driving the integration of the NSP outcomes at all levels.
“My office intends to mainstream women’s economic interests so they are prevented from feeling that they need to rely on men for survival because this is what ties victims to their perpetrators,” Mabuyane said.
“Because the Eastern Cape is more rural, you will be fooled into thinking we have fewer cases but it’s only because we have fewer spaces available for women in rural areas to report.
“Rural areas see people travelling more than 25km to get to the nearest police stations and the turn-around time for the police in these areas is too long.
“We need to fast-track the integration of the hinterland into our province so that reporting mechanisms improve across the region.” Buffalo City NGOs and activists highlighted the gaps in the implementation of the NSP locally.
Barnabas Ikuya, from Opio Rock Development Foundation, said: “There should be one co-ordinating body that oversees the NSP and one accountability body so that all those who are working in the GBV space can work in unison.”
Kangelwa Ntshinka, from the Eastern Cape health department said: “The NSP also does not make any provision for the abuse that young boys especially experience in the prison system.
“As an HIV/Aids specialist, we are concerned about the sodomisation of incarcerated young boys and this increases the spread of HIV in prison.
“The summit and the NSP did not touch on what prison warders should be doing to prevent HIV infection in the cells.
“Inmates are one of many social groups not covered by the NSP as another one would be those living with disabilities.”