The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) says it’s committed to highlighting the issues that need tackling as 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children continues around the country.
“A collective agenda driven by women’s rights advocates and government is the only effective way to ensure better access to justice and essential services for vulnerable women,” the WLC said.
“The levels of domestic violence against women is high across all racial and economic demographics in South Africa.
“To combat the shockingly high number of cases, women’s rights advocates and government need to drive a collective agenda to ensure better access to justice and essential services for vulnerable women.”
The WLC’s agenda includes the comprehensive implementation of sexual offences courts (SOCs), decriminalisation of sex work and recognition of the contribution of rural women to agricultural and rural development.
Also on the list are stepped up investigations into forced sterilisations in public hospitals and recognition of Muslim marriages which adversely impact on Muslim children.
Regarding the courts, WLC said it was concerned many did not comply with the model endorsed by the department and their legislative framework had not been put into operation.
“The achievement of both of these aspects of SOCs is essential to provide equal access to justice for all women who are subjected to gender-based violence,” it said.
“Despite a comprehensive set of government programmes and dynamic civil society services, gender-based violence continues to undermine women’s full realisation of the constitutional right of equality and to be free from all forms of violence.
“There are still many challenging issues facing women in South Africa which are deeply ingrained in our history and culture,” WLC said.
“These challenges need to be highlighted to create awareness and dedication to the ongoing struggle.”