Minister Lindiwe Zulu to lead walk against GBVF

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu will on Friday lead a human rights walk against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).

The walk coincides with Human Rights Month which is observed annually in South Africa.

The month-long observation seeks to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of freedom and democracy that the country enjoys today.

As part of this year’s Human Rights Month programme, which is celebrated under the theme “The Year of Charlotte Maxeke: Promoting Human Rights in the Age of COVID-19”, Zulu will lead the walk from Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg, to the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said that the walk aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls who are entitled to the full enjoyment of their rights free from any form of violence.

“South Africa has one of the highest GBV rates in the world, with the femicide rate that is reportedly five times higher than the global average (Stats SA, 2018). One need not look any further than the recent crime statistics released by the South African Police Service, which revealed a five percent increase in reported sexual offences between October-December 2020.

“These violations took place as the country was under the national lockdown to contain the spread of [the] Coronavirus. The very fact that women and girls live in fear of violence in their own homes where they are supposed to feel safe and protected, especially in the midst of a devastating global pandemic is an affront to their human rights,” the department said.

The walk coincides with the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, currently underway to review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which South Africa has ratified.

“The walk is part of the 365 Days of Action to expedite the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (2019-2024).”

The Minister will be joined by Gauteng MEC for Social Development Morakane Mosupyoe, representatives of human rights and advocacy organisations, including United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the South African Human Rights Commission, National Prosecuting Authority and ACT Now.

The walk will culminate into a dialogue with community-based organisations that render child protection and victim empowerment services in Diepsloot.

Diepsloot has been identified as one of the 30 GBV hotspots across the country.