Soul City hosts Panel Discussion on Gender based Violence

The need for a government and civil society coordinated response to gender-based violence was made strongly at a panel discussion hosted by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication today.

The panel discussion was facilitated by editor of The Star editor Kevin Ritchie and featured panellists Thoko Budaza, Soul City Eastern Cape Provincial Manager, Nondumiso Nsibande, Executive Director at Tshwaranang, Sonke Gender Justice’s Media and Government Liaison Mbuyiselo Botha and World Health Organisation’s Dr Taskeen Khan.

Nsibande said even though there were a number of civil society organisations and government departments focused on tackling gender-based violence the problem was they were not working together.

“The one big challenge is lack of collaboration between government departments and civil society organisations. Government departments are working in silos but similarly there’s little collaboration between civil society organisations,” Nsibande said. For instance many working in the civil society sector were not aware of government’s gender-based violence programme of action even though it was halfway through implementation.

Botha explained his organisation worked with men and boys because statistics showed that it was men and boys who perpetrate violence against women and girls.

“I don’t think its fair to focus on women when they speak around themselves because it is not them who are killing themselves; it is not women who are raping themselves. It is you and I [men] who have to say to other men – not in my name.”

The point about language being problematic was hotly debated, “Why call it gender-based violence, why not call it violence against women,” someone commented, adding it was the most common form of interpersonal violence in South Africa. Soul City’s Buduza is a multiple rape survivor. She used her own experience to put sexual violence in context.

“I was raped as a girl several times. I was eight-years-old. But to show that gender-based violence moves with me [with women as they age], I was also raped as an adult. It never ends.”

Budaza also runs the Rise Young Women’s Club in the Eastern Cape. The clubs empower young women aged 16 to 24 to take responsibility for their lives and shape their destiny.

“I feel like we are not angry enough, I feel like we are not touched enough by these young women’s stories. I feel like we have a blueprint in the HIV movement and we [use it here],” Budaza said.

Dr Taskeen Khan echoed WHO’s Margaret Chen and said, “What gets measured, gets done.” Khan said the scale of gender-based violence in SA could not be accurately measured due to under-reporting. Plus there was no single source of information.

Commenting from the floor, Doctors without Borders’ Sharon Ekambaram challenged the WHO to declare gender-based violence a human rights violation to ensure that the response matches the extent of the problem.

Closing the discussion, Soul City CEO Lebo Ramafoko invited all in attendance to continue the conversation. “This is a starting discussion. We need to identify three to four arears of action that we can agree on and work towards realising them,” she said.

This is a page heading

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, qui quem consetetur cu, mucius singulis molestiae eam et. Utinam nominati principes vis ne. Similique theophrastus eu nec, ea fugit impedit mediocritatem sed.