The terror visited upon the vulnerable

Michele du Plessis

“We must see, hear and feel the terror visited upon our women, children and other vulnerable groups,” Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Police said at the Action Indaba, Centurion. “We must see the hurt on the faces of South African women and children.”

Gender-based violence (GBV) takes on many forms. Domestic violence and physical violence are the most common forms of GBV. Emotional violence often involves verbal abuse, name calling and belittling of the other. It entails acts of embarrassment, humiliation and disrespect. Economic violence includes control of a partner’s assets and the male partner may be reluctant for his female partner to work. Sexual violence may involve rape, sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking.

Many studies show that violence is a learned behaviour for both men and women. “There is an apparent total breakdown of acceptable human behaviour in our country. The effects of violence can remain with women and children for a lifetime and can pass from one generation to another. Studies show that children who have witnessed, or been subjected to, violence is more likely to become victims or abusers themselves.” Mbalula continued.

“We must also ask – Is the scourge of violence we are experiencing due to inaction on the part of those entrusted to protect, inaction on the part of communities or civil society?” There is a disproportionate ratio of social workers to law enforcement officers – 12 000 social workers, 173 000 police officers and 500 000 private security members are employed in South Africa. “We can not be deaf or blind to crimes committed by our friends, family members, icons or idols. I am calling on all South Africans to report any suspicion of domestic abuse and remember always that each domestic beating is a potential murder.”

The introduction of the 6 Point Plan sets the highest standards of effective and constitutional policing. “I aimed at focusing our efforts on making it easier and less traumatic to report these crimes. Often victims say they have been chased away from the police station or their case was not treated seriously or they were viewed with suspicion, re-victimized, humiliated or simply ignored by our police. We must give communities and our vulnerable groups understanding of their rights and expectations so that we could be held to account effectively.”


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