In a meeting with various organisations the Commission for Gender Equality revealed that incest, parents forcing children into marriage, female farm workers sleeping with male supervisors to secure work, and child trafficking for sex work is rife in the Western Cape.
In a meeting with various organisations the Commission for Gender Equality (GCE) revealed that incest, parents forcing children into marriage, female farm workers sleeping with male supervisors to secure work, and child trafficking for sex work is rife in the Western Cape. The meeting was aimed at outlining the CGE’s 5-year strategic plan (2018 to 2023) to catalyse the attainment of gender equality.
Among those in attendance were representatives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organisations, Embrace Dignity, the South African Human Rights Commission, Destiny of Communities and traditional leaders. In her opening remarks, Commissioner Pinkie Sobahle urged them to report any form of violence that victimises women.
The 5-year strategic plan
To advance gender equality, the CGE believes an enabling legislative environment is important, so part of its strategic plan is to evaluate legislation, policies, practices and mechanisms and make recommendations to bring about continuous improvements.
Education is the focus of the CGE’s second strategic plan, through which it aims to transform the social behaviours that reproduce patriarchy, into a culture that promotes respect, social justice and gender equality. Not to go softly on the perpetrators, the plan is also to ensure effective and efficient justice for victims of gender-based violence.
Lastly, the CGE aims at effectively promoting and protecting gender equality by building highly skilled organisational capacity that implements good governance.
Elitsha spoke to some of the representatives present.
“Ukuthwala [a practice where a girl child can be abducted and forced into marriage] is still a practice in communities and no one is taking much care of this. I believe this is a crime and should be treated as rape, abduction and kidnapping. It is not culture but it’s a practice by some men in our societies. Sex trade must be abolished and criminalised with an exception of the person sold,” says Mickey Meji from Embrace Dignity, a gender activist and founder of a movement of survivors of prostitution.
According to Meji, sex-work should not be decriminalised as she believes it is a key driver of sex trafficking.
Mandisa Sinuka from Destiny of Communities blames the government for the lack of oversight on policies that promote gender equality. “Apartheid destroyed our ways of living completely. After 1994 we focused much on democracy and did not deal with the patriarchal nature of our society. Organisations or the government are not doing much to address this.”
CGE assured the organisations present that it will work closely with them in addressing gender inequality.