16 April 2013
Civil Society organisations present to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on weak government response to sexual offences.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development today received submissions around the budget of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD). This exercise is part of its review of the Department’s strategic plans and budget.
In a room packed to capacity with civil society organisations dealing with sexual offences, the Shukumisa Campaign’s submission highlighted a range of policy gaps around specialised courts, psycho-social services, court preparation, the competencies and training of personnel, and expansion of the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC).
“If sexual offences are a priority, why is there no coherent policy? The absence of policy results in these budgetary gaps and an inadequate criminal justice system response to sexual violence in South Africa” points out Samantha Waterhouse from the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape. She adds that the “lack of policy also results in poor operational planning and inconsistencies and inadequacies in responses.”
An independent expert, Lisa Vetten, says the absence of policies and budgets is leading to hidden subsidisation of the criminal justice system by NGOs. “The cost of counselling services provided at the TCCs, as well as court reports, are not budgeted for by the DoJ&CD. This is bad news in a context where NGOs are being forced to withdraw services because they can’t afford to pay their staff any longer.” Policy must be developed to say who is responsible for these costs, she advises.
Professor Lillian Artz from the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit, UCT calls for a revision of the Draft National Policy Framework to address the range of policy gaps in the DoJ&CD response to sexual offenses. This, she says, must include a detailed description of the duties and obligations imposed upon all role players in managing sexual offenses. “We note again the absence of particular policies. Where there is silence there can be no adequate budgeting and we reiterate once more the need for policy development and operational planning to allow for budgeting.”
According to Vivienne Mentoor-Lalu of Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN), “Civil society organisations provide a significant number of services to rape survivors. It’s important that we are part of developing these policies.”
The committee welcomed the submission and it says it will take up the issues raised by the Shukumisa Campaign with the Department tomorrow.
A copy of the submission is available here
Read the report by TimesLIVE
The Shukumisa Campaign is a coalition of 28 organisations working to prevent and address sexual offences, was amongst the groups which made submissions. The organisations in the campaign provide counselling, court support, training to service providers, legal services, research and advocacy in the area of sexual offences. Members of the Shukumisa Campaign include: Adapt, Childline SA, Community Law Centre Parliamentary Participation Unit, Gender Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU), Greater Rape Intervention Project (GRIP), Justice and Women (JAW), Legal Resources Centre, Lethabong Legal Advice Centre, Lifeline/Rape Crisis Pietermaritzburg, Limpopo Legal Advice Centre, Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, Mosaic, Nisaa Women’s Support Centre, Peddie Women’s Support Centre, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Project Empower, RAPCAN, Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, Remmoho, Teddy Bear Clinic, Sonke Gender Justice Network, Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme, Thusanang Advice Centre, Tipfuxeni Community Counselling Centre, Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women,Women on Farms Project, Women’s Legal Centre.
Lisa Vetten (Independent Expert): 082 822 6725
Samantha Waterhouse (Community Law Centre, UWC): 084 522 9646
Vivienne Mentoor – Lalu (Rapcan): 082 494 0788
Kelley Moult (Gender Health and Justice Research Unit, UCT): 082 625 6722
Bianca Valentine (Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre): 082 423 9 220