COSATU statement on the 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women (VAW) and Children

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is calling on its members, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, traditional leaders, academics, learning institutions, and the government of South Africa to take massive steps in the eradication of GBV in our country in 2020.

The Campaign for 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women (VAW) and Children started in 1991 and is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The last few years have seen unprecedented and an exceptionally high increase in the levels of violence against women and children. This has presented itself in the form of high levels of reported rape (understanding that the actual levels are higher because not all women report this violation); in the high levels of intimate partner violence, where some incidents have been captured on video and shared on social media; in the high levels of femicide and infanticide resulting from patriarchal and misogynistic urges.

We are calling on our members and trade union organisations to intensify their ongoing work in their workshops, seminars/webinars, protest actions, lobbying of government and other stakeholders, policy development, advocacy work, and campaigning during 2020 Campaign on 16 Days of Activism. This campaign must highlight the underlying cause of VAW(C) which is patriarchy accompanied by misogyny and all the concomitant causes such as poverty and challenging economic conditions, anti-women and children, cultural and religious beliefs and practices, poor psychosocial development, poor conflict resolution skills, lack of accountability amongst individual men and the South African eco-socio-political system.

 We are calling on the state and its organs to drive a serious campaign through all its departments and organs to prevent, address and heal victims of VAW(C). We are calling on the Department of Employment and Labour to STOP playing games and Urgently heed the Call by South African Workers to Urgently Ratify ILO C190 and its Recommendation 206 on Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The state to   speedily conclude all legislative processes on GBV and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to STOP Cutting Corners and Ticking the BOX, Respect  the recently Adopted National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence & Femicide  and Urgently Commission the  Department of Justice to develop the Legislation that will guide and govern the GBVF Council as per the guidance by NSP-GBVF. We are further calling for Treasury to Allocate an adequate budget for the establishment and functioning of the GBVF Council but further ensure that the CSO organisations are well resourced and financially supported.

The State should strengthen its policy and practice on Sexual Harassment and GBV in the workplace to indicate a zero-tolerance of these evils. Leaders, Managers, and public servants who commit GBV should feel the wrath of the state when such crimes are proved to be committed. We expect speedy investigations whether the GBV is committed socially/ at home or in the workplace. The time for venerating violent men at the expense of any single woman is over. The new South Africa is here.

We are calling on all FBOs, CBOs, NGOs, traditional leaders, academics, and learning institutions to run education and advocacy campaigns to ensure the eradication of VAW(C) and GBV in their institutions, their localities and to desist from committing VAW(C) and GBV in any institution or locality. We call on them to democratically develop GBV policies, popularise policies and educate their communities about VAW(C), and religiously implement these policies for the safety of women. Women in South Africa struggle to find safety within our spaces. We must all commit to this.

We are calling on the police service, all safety apparatus, and the judicial community to respect and implement our constitution, to develop and review their policies on GBV and harassment in the workplace in line with not only the letter but also the spirit of our constitution. We call on them to do their work of keeping South Africa especially women, children, and other marginalised groups safe which will contribute to our sense of belonging. We call on them keeping even our visitors safe. We call on them to conduct effective investigations, following the law in crimes against women, children, and other marginalised groups. We call on the judiciary to transform itself for the benefit of women, children, and other marginalised groups. We cannot go back to the time where violent, humiliating and dehumanising crimes against women, children, and other marginalised groups will be trivialised in the judicial system. Women and children are an integral and communally valuable part of our nation and its future.

We are calling on every individual and every community to learn about the rights of women, to respect Women, to desist from violent and abusive behaviour against women and children. We call on all our fellow citizens and our communities to have zero tolerance and uphold standards of zero tolerance against violence and abuse. We call on all individuals and communities to monitor the state and hold it to account on VAW(C), GBV.

We also call on our entertainment areas to have zero tolerance for violence and abuse and to ensure that their patrons are informed about women’s rights and unacceptable modes of behaviour.

 We Lastly Call all COSATU trade unions to heighten their Awareness Campaign against all forms of Violence and Continue to CALL for the URGENT RATIFICATION OF ILO C190 .Let us all commit ourselves to being a nation that has a zero-tolerance for VAW(C) and GBV!

Issued by COSATU

Gertrude Mtsweni -Cosatu National Gender Coordinator)

Cell:082 829 2966

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794