Does violence against women matter to you? If it does, what can be done differently to prevent and end the increasing spate of violence against women in our communities? These are the questions that the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) delegates pondered on during their visit to the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria on 17 May 2018.
The YALI delegates viewed the gripping documentary None of their business which deals with community action on violence against women, depicting the plight of many women who face domestic violence and the deafening silence of community members who view the issue as a private matter.
The delegates who were made up of young professionals and students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region deliberated on strategies to prevent violence against women which includes:
- The development of community policies that respond to violence in a timely and effective manner. This includes community response teams and gender sensitive neighbourhood watch.
- Establishment of educational platforms that target men.
- The involvement of reformed perpetuators of violence against women as well as religious and traditional leaders in the advocacy for change.
- Provision of accessible counselling centres that cater to the psycho-social need of victims and survivors.
- Promotion of a human rights approach to development that enshrines respect for the dignity and rights of all human beings.
- Inclusion of issues of gender equality, stereotypes and gender based violence as part of the school curriculum of young learners.
- The development of a name and shame policy. For example, a database where gender based violence offenders are collated and shared after repeated offences.
- The development of creative ways to advocate for an end to violence against women such as theatre productions and social media campaigns.
Thereafter, the Women’s Rights Unit, represented by Ade Johnson made a presentation on the regional legal instrument critical for the protection of the rights of women, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Right of Women (Maputo Protocol). The Maputo Protocol enhances the rights of women across Africa including the right to equality, non-discrimination, health and reproductive rights amongst others and also contains specific provision for the protection of women from all forms of violence. Article 4 of the Maputo Protocol calls on State Parties to take appropriate and effective measures to eliminate violence against women as well as dismantle stereotypes and gender inequality that are one of the root causes of violence perpetuated against women in the society.
The delegates also had the opportunity to engage with issues around access to justice for persons with disability. Dianah Msipa made a presentation on behalf of the Disability Rights Unit on the right to access to justice as enunciated in article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The idea behind this presentation was to give the delegates an idea of how some of the rights contained within the UNCRPD may be implemented in practice using the right to access justice as an example. The delegates were taught the meaning of access to justice, that is, how one might or might not be able to assess in a practical sense justice on an equal basis with others using the criminal justice system as the context for the discussion. The delegates then went on to learn about the different types of disabilities as well as the different barriers which persons with disabilities typically face. Finally, the delegates were introduced to the different types of accommodations or modifications which are required to enable persons with disabilities participate effectively in the criminal justice system.
Consequently, a lot more must be done by multiple stakeholders to protect women from violence and to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access justice on an equal basis with others. For change leaders such as the delegates from YALI, this is not only a responsibility but a necessity and a true test of leadership.
For more information on women’srRights and the rights of persons with disabilities or for similar trainings, please contact
Patience.Mpani@up.ac.za (Women’s Rights Unit)
Innocentia.Mgijima@up.ac.za (Disability Rights Unit)