Michele Clarke, MPL and DA Gauteng spokesperson for Community Safety, writes:
Both the South African Police Service and the criminal justice system have on several occasions failed to treat crimes committed against women with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.
In most instances when women are attacked by their lovers or partners, they report these incidents at their local police station. The police officers often treat the victims as if they are the perpetrators. Due to this unfair treatment most women no longer even bother to go and report such crimes.
Not all police stations are equipped with sexual assault and rape safe rooms for the victims. The victims are made to wait in the general public area for hours before they are assisted.
The country doesn’t have enough specialised units at our police stations to deal with sexual assault either. In many instances, the police officers refuse to open cases for the victims. The victims are told that the matter is not a crime and that they should go home and sort out their personal problems with their partners.
Violence against women has become the norm in South Africa and it has become ‘acceptable’.
Domestic violence and violence against women occur at different levels of our society. Influential men in corporates, government and affluent areas have been exposed for committing violence against women. Our own leaders are failing to be role models in terms of instilling values and respect for women in young men.
The time has come for all women to stand up in society and take a hard stance against our rights being violated. Women should not allow themselves to be used; this includes sleeping with a man in order to get promoted at work or to secure employment.
We call upon the law enforcement agencies and the legal system to respect women and treat them with dignity, respect and equality.
Women are the structure and strength of our communities. An attack on a woman is an attack on our communities. We say no to violence against women. Women’s rights should not just be highlighted during the month of August but every day of the year.