Press ReleaseAugust 23, 2017
CSVR calls for women to raise their voices against VAW
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is calling on South African women to speak up about Violence Against Women (VAW) as part of a new social media campaign to highlight the pervasive nature of the scourge.
The campaign, #EndVAWNow, will be conducted across social media platforms to allow women to share their own stories.
“Through this campaign, we are encouraging women to break the silence by sharing their personal experiences,” said CVSR Gender Specialist Nonhlanhla Sibanda-Moyo.
“It is estimated that at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. These incidents take place in spaces where women’s general life occurs, both public and private,” said Sibanda-Moyo.
The campaign is also a call to government, the private sector, civil society organisations and all sectors of society to combine efforts to end VAW in South Africa.
It comes ahead of the release of research conducted by the CSVR in partnership with Oxfam-South Africa on why VAW persists as well as recommendations for action. The findings will be shared during a media briefing and public seminar on August 29 and 30 in Johannesburg.
Women can join the conversation to help end VAW by sharing their experiences on Twitter (@_CSVR); WhatsApp (+27 63 972 2999) and Facebook (EndVAWNow). The hashtag is #EndVAWNow.
Issued by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
For more information and interviews, contact:
Nonhlanhla Sibanda (Gender Specialist, CSVR)
June 20, 2017
CSVR welcomes High Court ruling on reporting cases of sexual abuse
A new judgment passed by the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, 19 June that sexual abuse cases older than twenty years should be valid is being welcomed by The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).
The judgement stipulates that Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act – which previously stated that a case of sexual abuse cannot be brought against a person if the alleged incident happened more than twenty years ago - is invalid and unconstitutional according to the High Court.
According to a CSVR (2009) study, there are numerous reasons to explain the delays in the disclosure or non-reporting of sexual abuse in South Africa. These include: “feelings of shame and self-blame; …reluctance towards or threats against reporting a family member or intimate partner; discriminatory police attitudes; and the secondary victimisation experienced by sexual assault victims in the criminal justice system.”
Other reports also point to the fact that immediate disclosure after an abusive incident is the exception rather than the rule. In the majority of abuse cases, disclosures are often delayed, and it is usually a gradual process where the abuse may have taken place months or years before. Also, in many cases the disclosure of child sexual abuse is more typical when the victim reaches adulthood.
The combination of these factors means that the reporting of sexual abuse is often a complex and difficult process for many survivors. Consequently, not all survivors will report the crime immediately. CSVR therefore commends the High Court for its progressive ruling that, once confirmed by the Constitutional Court, will go a long way in improving access to justice for many survivors of sexual abuse.
CSVR further urges the Constitutional Court to uphold and confirm this ruling, so as to enable Parliament an opportunity to amend the law. We also congratulate the work of the civil society organisations; Lawyers for Human Rights, Teddy Bear Clinic and the Women’s Legal Centre who acted as ‘amicus curiae’ (friends of the court) in the case that led to this progressive ruling.
Issued by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
For more information and interviews, contact:
Nonhlanhla Sibanda (Gender Specialist, CSVR)
Tel: +27 11 403 5650
Cell: +27 74 581 9401
Tel: +27 11 888 0140
Cell: +27 79 713 5953
PRESS RELEASE | 25 November 2016
Implement interventions to eradicate GBV
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is calling on government to act to stem the rise in Gender Based Violence in South Africa. It urges the state to urgently commission a national GBV baseline study to determine the nature and extent of GBV experienced across the country.
Reliable and up-to-date information about the levels and extent of GBV in South Africa is critical, because implementing strategies that are not informed by research or that lack comprehensive monitoring and evaluation frameworks will of limited benefit.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against domestic violence, this year’s campaign which starts on November 25 takes place under the theme entitled “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward “.
Domestic violence, physical violence, emotional violence, economic violence, sexual violence and femicide are some of the forms Gender Based Violence (GBV) reviewed by a CSVR study titled Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa: A Brief Review.
South Africa has a range of laws that deal with the issues of violence against women such as the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 and the Sexual Offences Act of 2007.
However, these laws are undermined by ineffective implementation, insufficient funding for most programmes aimed at preventing GBV, as well as limited monitoring and evaluation of the impact of these programmes.
“Government needs to close the gap between policy and practice if we are to eradicate gender based violence,” said Nonhlanhla Sibanda Gender Specialist at CSVR.
“The state’s failure to implement GBV-related policies and legislation serves to perpetuate the high levels of gender based violence in communities,” she added.
The study provides an overview of GBV in the country, while reflecting on government and non-governmental responses to GBV over the past years. It also emphasizes the critical need for community led solutions and strategies, underscoring the need to work with local authorities as well as traditional and religious leaders.
“GBV prevention requires attitudinal and behavioral changes, as well as grassroots community involvement in decision-making processes,” said Sibanda.
“Therefore, there is need for an increase in collaborative efforts within communities to ensure that different players provide mutual support to one another in efforts to prevent GBV,” added Sibanda.
For more information and interviews contact:
CSVR Gender Specialist
Cell: 074 581 9401
Tel: +27 11 888 0140
Cell: +27 79 908 2352
MEMBERS of Parliament’s police committee, the new Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu and police secretariat officials pronounced themselves disappointed this week when the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s report on why crime in South Africa is so violent was released.
They clearly all wanted a magic wand from the academics – David Bruce and Adele Kirsten – who compiled the study, and there wasn’t one. Indeed, after a particularly robust engagement, Bruce told the committee that worldwide there had been many studies done on violent crime and no one had yet come up with an answer.
Committee chairman Sindi Chikunga and Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald wanted to know why crime in South Africa was so often accompanied by hideous cruelty. They said the study had failed to find an explanation as to why victims of crime are so often tortured.Indeed, this is a good question. The study reported that the history of structural violence inherent in the way in which colonialism and apartheid worked lay at the heart of the matter.
I suppose the idea is that if you are the victim of institutional violence simply because of your race then it legitimises violence on a personal level.Also, people would have observed brutal state action from police and other departments where there were no consequences. In short, impunity.Also connected to violent crime in the study were things like poverty, education, the destruction of family structures through the migrant labour system and, curiously, the abuse of alcohol by young mothers – often accompanied by domestic violence. Still further reinforcement.
While accepting the bona fides of the research done, it would be nice if the further research which the CSVR said was ongoing could provide answers to some of the questions. For example, there are places in the world where there is far more poverty than in South Africa but where there is less violent crime.It would also be interesting to find out what role is played by the fact that South Africa negotiated its revolution rather than fighting to the end. Is there a sort of feeling that violence is justified because there were no real winners and losers in the revolution?
There were some startling findings which should sound some alarm bells, one being that more than a third of the perpetrators of violent crime are 19 years and younger. That is truly scary and it points to problems with education and socialisation.
Having said all that, the criticism of the report does seem to be unfair. It is an astonishing piece of work and really does serve the vital function of bringing together what we know about violent crime in the country and putting it in an accessible form in one place.
There have also been complaints that R3.5- million of public money was spent and not much achieved. Also unfair. Anything that contributes to a better understanding of where we are and why we behave as we do is worth every cent.
In The Herald
Johannesburg - South Africa's "gender machinery" is in "disarray" with it not even being clear who is co-ordinating the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a group of NGOs said on Wednesday.
"At a time when it is most needed, participants noted, the national gender machinery is in disarray," read a statement from Gender Links and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).
"There is a lack of clarity on which agency is driving the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which used to be housed in the department of local government, following the establishment of the ministry of women, children and disability in April this year.
"The ministry has yet to hold a consultation with civil society organisations. There has also been a deafening silence on the status of the 365 National Action Plan to End Gender Violence adopted in March 2007 and co-ordinated by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA)."
They said there is also still no specific "domestic violence" category which would enable monitoring of the crime. They called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.
'We can prevent violence'
Their statement followed a three-day symposium convened by the CSVR under the banner "We can Prevent Violence". They also called for the establishment of a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.
In addition they called on Fifa to use the World Cup 2010 to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV/Aids.
They said the 12% increase in reported rape cases to 71 500 from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 may in part be due to the expanded definition of rape under the new act. The figures are unacceptably high and likely to be understated due to under reporting.
Government was also still "well behind" in reaching the target of 81 one-stop centres for addressing gender violence by 2010 provided for in the National Sexual Assault Policy.
The 16-Days campaign takes place every year from November 25, the International Day of No Violence Against Women.
It runs until December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
Is he an astute politician who speaks to ordinary people's concerns, or a dangerous populist who may be undermining the Constitution? Jacob Zuma's controversial remarks on the pre-election campaign trail that has taken him around the country have left in their wake a number of questions - and while his comments may have hit the right spot with his audiences, constitutional experts and gender rights activists are not amused. The ANC president told a rally in the Western Cape last weekend that truant learners and pregnant teenagers "should be caught and sent to faraway boarding schools by force until they get degrees".
He accused teenaged mothers of abusing the government's child grant and talked about "a war on street kids". He also repeated previous remarks, including one that crime suspects enjoy too many privileges. But since he sensationally pronounced last year that he was willing to reconsider the death penalty, there has been little indication of how he wants to get this past the country's progressive human rights Constitution. The man is certainly playing to his audiences across South Africa's deep social divides. His allegorical, vernacular rally style contrasts sharply with his measured and reasonable utterances last week at the Cape Town Press Club, where his audience was a world apart from the mostly poverty-stricken people who turn up at rallies. Constitutional and human rights experts believe Zuma's campaign approach to be "dangerous" and "populist", one that's testing the limits of the country's Constitution. Some are incensed by Zuma's suggestion that teenaged mothers should be separated from their babies. "There is a complete lack of acknowledgement of the responsibility of the father in any of this. Teenage girls are a nice, easy cheap target and it plays to a conservative populism to bash teenage girls," is the verdict of Lisa Vetten, senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women. "Frankly, for the ANC Youth League to have not said anything about this either, just goes to show how much they care about the difficulties that face adolescent girls. Why girls fall pregnant is a lot more complicated than we think." Two legal commentators say they believe aspects of Zuma's statements may be in conflict with the country's Constitution. University of the Western Cape constitutional expert, Professor Pierre de Vos, says if Zuma indeed meant that women should be forcibly sent away for education, he was making them into "criminals" when they were not accused before the law - "even more grave if it is directed at pregnant women". "It is obviously preposterous, because you once again make women the scapegoats and the men (who made them pregnant) get away scot-free. It is the old patriarchal approach," said De Vos. While acknowledging that the scope of teenage pregnancies was a shame to society, Unisa's Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC president's solution was not necessarily "child friendly", did not address the root causes of the problem and "from a constitutional legal perspective (was) very problematic". "As a safeguard you should build in the question of development of children," suggests Gutto. "In legal terms, the interests of the child (babies) come first, and critical to that is the interests of the child, for instance, in breastfeeding. "We know breastfeeding is universally acknowledged to be better for the child than other forms of feeding (although) other forms are not necessarily bad for the child." He said in this context, the statement "could violate the constitutional principle of protecting the rights of children" even before considering the interests of the mother. From the child's point of view "the statements are unfortunate and in many ways opposite to the principles of law". "We need proper reflection really on this issue - which is a populist statement not properly thought through," he suggested. But ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus believes Zuma has been misunderstood. The comments - often mistranslated - are derived from listening to communities where the problem of teenage pregnancies "means that mothers and grannies then have to look after the children of their children" and teenage mothers are stigmatised. Niehaus said Zuma was merely raising real concerns in communities that beg for a response from the government. He said that when teenagers leave a community to give birth, they are seldom welcomed back "because there is a kind of social sanction". "It is first of all not an attitude to let men walk off scot-free. It is important that young men are also kept responsible. The suggestion is not at all to withdraw the children by force, but where possible for them to be taken into a new community where they will be able to grow with the children," he explained. On the ANC president's statements that the rights of criminals should be curtailed, experts argue that this will not solve the underlying problem of weak judicial and police systems that result in offenders walking free. But what it does do is infringe on people's constitutional rights. The constitutional legal basic rights of all persons have limitations, stresses Gutto. "But then to be saying criminals should not have rights, really the ANC president is speaking in a language (that) I think is contrary to our Constitution and the principles of the right to freedom of movement and the rights of expression and freedom of association, which will be severely limited." Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation's senior researcher David Bruce says that while there's evidence that a control-orientated approach to criminal justice is likely to convict more criminals, it also comes at the cost of convicting higher numbers of people who are innocent. Bruce warns that a human rights approach, however, depends on a criminal justice system which is staffed by people who are highly skilled and knowledgeable. South Africa has been struggling to get this right, but all efforts must be exhausted before we start intruding on human rights, he stressed. "Incarceration is a process which brutalises people. We are living in a country that is already severely brutalised. So we need to be very wary of it," he said. De Vos says it's a "typical politician's quick-fix" answer to complex problems in our deeply unequal society. But Niehaus stressed that Zuma had been trying to respond to communities' serious battles against crime and to encourage discussion about whether this could be dealt with "in a tougher way without transgressing the Constitution". Gutto also acknowledges the flip-side - that South Africa offers little for victims of crime. "If you put all those together, you can see where the sentiment is coming from - but the ANC president should not be speaking so loosely." Niehaus denied Zuma was being populist. "It is more about being sensitive to the issues being raised in townships and rural communities where things are really difficult. "These are really issues that I think he is quite right to raise," he stressed.This article was originally published on page 17 of Cape Argus on November 14, 2008
There was no need for court action to force the Gauteng provincial government to keep open temporary safe sites for refugees and asylum seekers until they were reintegrated into communities, spokesperson Thabo Masebe said on Monday. He was reacting to the announcement that the Wits Law Clinic and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) were bringing an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. They want the government ordered to communicate and implement a reintegration strategy which protects the rights of all, and to restore and not dismantle the Rifle Range temporary safe site until the reintegration strategy is in place.
"I don't know really what these people are looking for," said Masebe. There was no need for them to take court action, he said. "All they had to do was come to us." More than 62 people died, hundreds were injured and tens of thousands displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks which started in Alexandra, Johannesburg on May 12 and spread to the rest of the country. The displaced have been housed in temporary shelters set up throughout the province since then. "All the shelters are still open, including the Rifle Range shelter," said Masebe. However, he explained that when people left any of the shelters any excess tents were folded up. Of about 1 700 refugees and asylum seekers at the Rifle Range camp at the height of the crisis, only 250 remained, he said. The rest had left after refusing to accept temporary identity cards from the Department of Home Affairs or finding alternative accommodation in their communities. Elsewhere in the province, there were still about 3 000 occupants of the safe shelters. "It's going down because people are leaving every day," he said, adding that 10 families left the Rand Airport camp on Friday alone. The government's key role had been to create conditions in all communities - starting with those where there was violence - for people to return to their homes, Masebe said. "They should be safe to do so. They should not fear that somebody will attack them again," he said. This had involved talking to the communities, which the provincial government had started in May. "It's not something that starts and stops. It starts and continues," he said. "I don't know what plan they are looking for." Civil society organisations have come out in support of the court action. While the need for legal action was regrettable, it was needed in the absence of the government's formal communication on a reintegration strategy, said the Reintegration Working Group. The group includes representatives of, among others: the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg; the Somali Community Board; the Refugee Ministries Centre; the Coalition Against Xenophobia; His People Church; the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation; Mthwakazi Arts and Culture; and the Salvation Army. Masebe said the various groups could assist the government as political organisations and community organisations had done from the start. "That process goes on." In addition, the provincial government was talking to displaced people still at the shelters and who could not reintegrate on their own to find out what kind of help they needed. This included assistance with the building of shacks destroyed in the violence - in Ekurhuleni, communities were already helping in rebuilding efforts - or finding alternative accommodation. "There is no way as government, there is no way we are going to keep the shelters on a permanent basis.". The government did not want to create as permanent, separate settlements for foreign nationals, he said, adding that the government would oppose the court action. "It is not properly informed." - Sapa
In the Independent Online
Police corruption is likely to skyrocket if the Scorpions are closed down, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stated in a submission to parliament. "The SAPS is already riddled with corruption and is very bad at addressing the issue," CSVR senior researcher David Bruce argued. He said that corruption within the service could only be properly addressed if investigating units, with the "investigative sophistication" of the Scorpions, were allowed to remain independent of the police. The CSVR submission is but one of many which the chairperson of the National Assembly's Safety and Security Committee, Maggie Sotyu, expects to be waiting for her when she return to parliament next Tuesday.
The public has until Monday to make submissions concerning their views on whether the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) should be closed and merged into the SAPS as called for by ANC resolutions passed at its December conference. The CSVR said that while it recognised that there were problems with the way the Scorpions were managed - as highlighted in the Khampepe Commission's report - these should be addressed without dissolving the unit. Closing the unit would do nothing to reduce the risk of the state abusing its power in the future by using similar units for its own political gain, the CSVR argued. "Creating a single agency with a monopoly of investigative powers is more likely to accentuate the problem," the CSVR said. Groups within the ANC along with the ANC's alliance partners have accused President Thabo Mbeki of using the Scorpions to carry out his political agenda against ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Meanwhile the Centre For Constitutional Rights (CFCR) on Wednesday described cabinet's decision to close the Scorpions as "irrational and arbitrary". It added it had a duty to draw attention to "conduct inconsistent with the constitution".This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on July 24, 2008
Brian Indrelunas The government should meet its "international obligation" to criminalise torture, says SA Human Rights commissioner Leon Wessels. He called explicitly outlawing torture "an international obligation" after speaking to representatives of non-profit groups and government departments at a seminar. "We can't just subscribe to the international rhetoric (without) ensuring that torture becomes a statutory crime," he commented. The Constitution lists the right not to be tortured and police policies refer to torture specifically, but "all other policy is devoid of the language", said Lukas Muntingh of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative. CSPRI and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) hosted on Tuesday's seminar, which explored civil society's role in preventing torture.
Published on iol.co.za
Moyo. N., Khonje. E & Brobbey. M. (2017). Violence against women in South Africa: A country in crisis.
Bantjes, Megan. 2011. How others have done it: A desk study of community projects related to torture, Appendix C. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.With the aim of informing CSVR's development of a community work model to address torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, this desk study examines six community projects conducted in South Africa and in other countries. Details of four of the interventions were found in the literature and information about two projects was gathered in interviews with the staff involved. Each intervention is discussed in terms of six questions that have been found useful for thinking about community work (see Questions about community work, Appendix B). The objectives of CSVR’s community work on torture - transformation, prevention and amelioration - provide the framework for considering the implications of each of these projects for CSVR's development of a model.
Syed, T. & Bruce, D. (1998). Police Corruption: Towards a Working Definition. In African Security Review, Vol. 7, No. 1.
Theissen, G. (1996). Between Acknowledgement and Ignorance: How white South Africans have dealt with the apartheid past. Research report based on a CSVR-public opinion survey conducted in March 1996.
Hamber, B. (1995). Dealing with the Past and the Psychology of Reconciliation: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a psychological perspective. Paper presented at the 4th International Symposium on The Contributions of Psychology to Peace, Cape Town, 27 June.
Marks, M. (1995). Stresses in the South African Police Service. Paper presented to Stress Management Self-help Group for Police in Soweto, Protea Police Station, June.
Stevens, J. (1991). The Myth of Rehabilitation. Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Seminar No. 3, 22 May.
Vogelman, L. (1987). The Development of an Appropriate Psychology: The work of the Organisation of Appropriate Social Services in South Africa. In Psychology in Society, No. 7.