HOSPERSA CALLS FOR NATIONAL GENDER BASED VIOLENCE ACTION PLAN
27 November 2017
Hospersa is calling for a national action plan to address the alarming rate of gender based violence in the country. This call is being as the country prepares to highlight the scourge of Gender-based violence (GBV) during the 16 Days of Activism against women and children campaign. The Union has also called on law enforcement agencies for a tougher stance against perpetrators found guilty in order to send a strong message that will assist in eradicating these violent crimes.
On 25 November 2017 until 10 December 2017, Hospersa joins the international community in highlighting the scourge of violence leveled against women and children during the 16 Days of Activism campaign. This year has seen an alarming increase of GBV on women and children, which has led Hospersa to call for a national action plan. According to the Union, the action plan must be similar to the National Strategy Plan for HIV/TB/STIs (2017/2022) and it must be multisectoral with adequate human and financial resources. The Union also calls for dedicated and specialised services in public health facilities to be given to victims of GBV and sexual assault. Furthermore, the Union calls for additional specialised staff to be trained and employed within the health sector as GBV specialists, the implementation of the Department of Health’s (DoH) National Sexual Assault Policy, debriefing for health care workers who are working with victims as well as a national campaign that speaks specifically to the health system’s role in providing efficient services to the victims.
“It is crucial for the health sector to provide a specialised, comprehensive, compassionate and proactive service to victims of violence, especially in a country like ours where violent crimes are rampant,” said Hospersa Occupational Health and Safety spokesperson, Fazeela Fayers. “Victims of GBV and sexual assault need to be received by well trained health care workers who understand their biological and psycho-social needs in order to provide the relevant comfort, advise and appropriate medical treatment. A national action plan will address the gaps that currently exist in the health system,” added Fayers.
According to the South African Demographic and Health Survey 2016 Key Indicators Report released on 15 May 2017 by Statistics South Africa, one in every five South African women older than 18 years has experienced physical violence, and 8% report that they experienced physical violence in the past 12 months. The recent crime statistics released by the South African Police Services (SAPS) state that there has been nearly 50 thousand cases of sexual offence reported from July 2016 to June 2017.
“We are concerned that these statistics are not recorded within the health sector especially those of GBV cases,” argued Fayers. “Whilst victims of sexual violence have some access to one-stop services through the 55 Thuthuzela centres countrywide, victims of GBV are often not advised or referred by health facilities due to the lack of information and knowledge on the available services. Furthermore, the DoH only collects data on sexual assault cases and does not record incidence of GBV. As a result, many victims seeking medical care for GBV are undetected in the health care system and opportunities for preventive counseling and onward referrals are missed,” added Fayers.
“We are also concerned by the staff shortages in the public health facilities and the inadequate training on the National Sexual Assault Policy (2005). We hold a strong view that the guidelines in this policy can go a long way in reducing the sexual assault incidence if fully implemented. Currently, health care workers are not familiar with these guidelines in the policy which hinders its implementation,” mentioned Fayers.
Hospersa has also been vocal on the recent spate of attacks on women and children. In June, the Union joined the Matlosana Municipality in the North West province in a march against gender-based violence on women and children. The Union handed a memorandum to the South African Police Services (SAPS) calling for a tougher stance against perpetrators of these violent crimes.
“We are disappointed by the light sentence given to the former Deputy Minister of Higher Education earlier this month after pleading guilty to assaulting two women at a popular social club in Fourways, Johannesburg. The light sentence given to him sent a wrong message which states that your financial situation or political stature can buy your way out of jail, said Fayers.
“As a trade union with many female members, Hospersa calls on the police department and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a more effective system that will protect the victims upon reporting the crime. We also call on all South Africans, civil society organisations and political organisations to unite in the fight against gender-based violence on women and children. We must rally behind the motto ‘Wathinta abafazi, wathinta imbhokodo’ (You touch a women, you touch a rock) and unite to eradicate these attacks in our communities,” concluded Fayers.
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For more information please contact Hospersa OHS spokesperson Fazeela Fayers on 082-654-1368.
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