Premier Jenkins at the launch of 16 Days of Activism

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape Mrs Hazel Jenkins, on the occasion of the 16 days of activism campaign of no violence against women ad children, 25 November 2011, Strydenburg

We are gathered here as the people of the Northern Cape to mark the global efforts and official start of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for the year 2011. This campaign reminds us that violence against women and children is one of the most widespread human rights abuses in all countries.

 As parents, family members, as citizens, as workers and as professionals – it must be our number one priority to do what we can to protect our children, women and our families from violence.

Together, we can and must do more to prevent violence against women, provide services to survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are punished.

The theme of this year’s 16 Days Campaign of no violence is:  “From peace in the home to peace in the world:  proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence,” calls for stronger commitment and action against the use of the Okapi, an instrument that should be confined to the kitchen or outlawed altogether.

Programme Director, gender-based violence reflects inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, integrity, security and autonomy of its victims.  It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices.

Any one of these abuses can leave deep psychological and related scars, irreparably damage the health of women and girls, particularly their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances, results in death.

Ladies and Gentlemen, domestic violence is the most common form of gender-based violence.  In every country where reliable data exist, between 10 and 69 per cent of women report that an intimate partner in their lifetime has physically abused them.  Other widespread forms of violence include systematic rape – used as a weapon of war, leaving millions of women and adolescent girls traumatized, forcibly impregnated, or infected with HIV.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have no choice but to stop this scourge from happening.  Former President Nelson Mandela once remarked that “Those who abuse women and children tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation”.

As the Provincial government and the people of the Northern Cape, we are indeed delighted to participate in this international campaign that is endorsed by the United Nations to stem the vicious cycle of violence against women and children.  While progress has been made in the enactment of laws, much greater action is needed to ensure that laws are enforced and awareness is raised.  Today, government has in place legislative provisions that specifically address domestic violence which includes the following:

    * Domestic violence Act, 1998 was enacted to afford survivors maximum protection from domestic abuse.
    * Children’s Act, 2005 and Children’s Amended Act, 2007 was enacted to, amongst others, protect a child from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
    * Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 was passed to ensure that women have equal enjoyment of rights and freedom, in addressing wrongs of the past.
    * Employment Equity Act, 1998 was passed to ensure non-discrimination in employment, occupation and income within the labour market.
    * Maintenance Act, 1998 was legislated to guarantee the rights of a child to a living standard which is adequate for physical, mental, spiritual and social development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as the provincial government together with civil society organisations and the business sector, we must work together in this campaign to create public awareness on the negative impact of violence on women and children, and encourage collective action against all types of abuse and the prevention thereof.  We must work together with all sectors of society, involving particularly men as the primary perpetrators, in the battle for the eradication of these kinds of violence.

Former President Mandela also made a call during the National Men’s March in 1997:  “To religious leaders, to champion the cause of women and children”.

“To teachers who can help ensure that children know their rights and that they grow into adults able to handle disagreement and conflict without violence”.

“To trade union leaders to help provide the resources for counselling and the care of women and children who have been victims of abuse”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are Building partnerships to combat violence against women to:
 

    * Enhance the participation of all interested parties in the legislative process needed to combat violence against women;
    * To monitor the enforcement and impact of laws to counter violence against women on the ground;  and
    * To bring about a change in mentality and mobilize public opinion with a view to eliminating gender-based violence.

As the Provincial Government we all share the desire for the well-being of our women and children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.

It is for this reason that our government had committed itself to pursue a clear and tangible programme of action to improve the plight of our children which includes two:

    * Build early childhood Development Centres, which promote an educational component in childcare;
    * Create child and family friendly parks in local municipalities which will provide safe spaces for children and their families to engage in sporting activities and general recreation;
    * Build child friendly facilities in all municipalities in the province;
    * Place social workers in school districts to provide social support services to learners and help prevent instances of child abuse;
    * Establish support for safe houses and shelters in each community that will provide temporary but potentially life-saving support for abused people, particularly women and children;
    * Enforce by-laws that restrict the sale of alcohol close to schools and other place frequented by children and families such as places of worship and recreational facilities;
    * Increase access to information and the arts;
    * Extend the distribution of community libraries, including upgrading of existing libraries with new materials, information and communication (ICT) infrastructure and internet access;
    * Extend provision and upgrading of community arts centres to enable thousands of children to practice and develop their skills in the field of music, drama, craft and general entertainment activities.

Programme Director, living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence both in peace and in war, in the home and community.  Across the globe, women are beaten, raped, mutilated, and killed impunity.

We must emphasise the fact, Ladies and Gentlemen, that governments have the obligation to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women-whether perpetrated by partners or strangers.  States have a responsibility to uphold standards of due diligence and those steps to fulfil their responsibility to protect individuals from human rights abuses.

With your help, we can arrest the perpetrators responsible for these wanton acts and put an end to this cycle of violence against women.

Violence against women is regrettably and unfortunately woven into fabric of society to such an extent that many who are victimised feel that they were at fault.  Many of those who perpetrate violence feel justified by wrong societal messages that say that rape, battering, sexual harassment, child abuse, and other forms of violence are acceptable.

Ladies and Gentlemen every day we see images of male violence against women in the news, on TV shows, in the movie, in advertising, and in our homes and workplaces which perpetuate the stereotypes that are dangerous to ordinary human beings and the nation we so earnestly desire to build.

We are also faced with scourge of alcohol abuse which inevitably leads to an increase in domestic violence.  After partners have consumed unimaginable levels of alcohol, they usually quarrel and fight in the presence of their children, thereby leading to a breakdown in family units.

We are also experiencing the unfortunate situation where FOETAL alcohol syndrome is ravaging many areas of the Northern Cape, especially the De Aar Region and farming communities across our province.  The abuse of alcohol during pregnancy leads to foetal alcohol syndrome.  Alcohol intake during pregnancy can negatively affect the child’s central nervous system and co-ordination, mental and social development, as well as their ability to reason.  So when you drink alcohol during pregnancy, you already condemn your unborn child to a miserable life.

We call on all women to desist from consuming alcohol before conception and throughout pregnancy.

In conclusion, we firmly believe that every woman and girl should live in a home where they are free from the threat of violence.  Every girl should be able to attend school without the risk of abuse.  Every woman and girl should be free from gender-based violence.

In this regard, the Northern Cape Provincial Government, the EXco of the Province, and all peace loving citizens of the Northern Cape, calls upon all communities, especially the men folk, to protect and provide for their families.  Nothing else will do!

I Thank You

 

Additional notes by the Premier

The Premier, Ms Hazel Jenkins also mentioned that in the Northern Cape Province, the abuse of alcohol leads to greater forms of abuse and domestic violence. Most abused women are under the age of 45. Communities must make take responsibility and do introspection and see what contribution they have made to stop the scourge.

Another problem, especially in the Pixley ka Seme District that is hampering the development our children is the abuse of alcohol during pregnancy leading to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. This leads to underdevelopment of children and lessens their ability to function on the same level as their peers.

As the Northern Cape Provincial every woman and child deserves to live in a house free from violence, every child deserves to attend a school where their safety is guaranteed. We thus request that every person becomes an ambassador of the 16 Days of Activism and encourage people to become involved in the protection of our families and communities against any forms of violence.

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