DA leader Helen Zille will be touring the country along with local and provincial DA public representatives to listen to the concerns of South Africans, to discuss their problems and how a DA government would be able to work towards finding solutions to those problems.
Where is the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities?
[Note to Editors: Today is the last stop of Helen Zille’s open, opportunity tour in Actonville on the East Rand. Helen will be leading a mass march in solidarity with abused women and children.]
What follows is an extract of the speech prepared for delivery at the march.
This week marked the end of 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children.
Today we march in solidarity with every victim and we pay tribute to every organisation and individual dedicated to stopping abuse.
Violence against women and children is a global problem. Rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence occur all over the world, but, here in South Africa, it is endemic.
In a 16 day period, 144 women and children will be murdered. 2 200 will be raped and sexually abused. And nearly 7 900 will be physically assaulted.
But even these statistics do not convey the true horror of it all.
Just last weekend, a 30 year-old woman was found with her throat slit in a field in Eersterus. Police have not confirmed whether she was raped, but told journalists that she had several stab wounds to her private parts and stomach. Last month, on the same day, two four-year-old toddlers – one of them mentally disabled – were raped in separate incidents in Soweto.
It is difficult to comprehend what motivates people to commit these atrocities. We know that uneven power relations play a role. It is increasingly clear that drug abuse turns people into psychopaths with no regard for human life.
Our criminal justice system does nothing to deter those who commit crimes against women and children. They do so without fear of being caught, prosecuted and convicted – less than 10% of rape cases opened result in convictions.
Even when rapists go to jail, there is no guarantee they will stay there. Take the case of serial rapist Ananias Mathe who was sent to jail again this week. He was convicted of multiple counts of rape, but escaped from prison twice to rape again.
This government makes all the right noises about the rights of women and children. But, when it comes to action, little is done.
When it was announced by President Zuma that he was establishing a new Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, it was warmly welcomed by the DA. We hoped that this Ministry would put the rights of women and children at the centre of government policy.
Seven months on and we have seen precious little progress. Of course we don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. We also understand that no government, anywhere in the world, can completely eradicate women and child abuse.
But we do expect some action and energy from a new ministry. Minister Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya has done very little. We are still no closer to knowing what her strategic plans are for her Department. We would expect, at the very least, that she would have appointed a Director-General by now. We may have to wait a while for this. The closing date for applications was 5 days ago.
I hope that the decision to establish this new Ministry wasn’t just window-dressing. I hope that it was born out of a serious commitment to take the rights of women and children seriously. And I hope that it will have a material impact on the lives of women and children 365 days a year.
If it doesn’t, it will be an insult to every vulnerable woman and child in this country. We think they have suffered enough.
SPEECH BY HELEN ZILLE
LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE
12 DECEMBER 2009