COSATU welcomes Parliament’s adoption of the three Gender-Based Violence Bills to Parliament
12 September 2021
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Parliament’s adoption of the 3 Gender Based Violence (GBV) Bills to Parliament.
These three progressive bills (Sexual Offences; Domestic Violence; and Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bills) are part of the package of interventions committed to by the President in 2019. They are a welcome step in the right direction to capacitate the state to tackle the scourge of violence affecting women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, in particular sexual offences.
Key provisions proposed in the Bills include:
Tightening incest prohibitions;
Extensive definitions of sexual intimidation;
The inclusion of all convicted sex offenders in the National Register;
Providing the Register to be publicly accessible;
Prohibiting the employment of sex offenders in professions where vulnerable persons may be at risk;
Requiring persons aware of offences being committed against children to report them to the police;
Providing for intermediaries and audiovisual court processes for vulnerable complainants;
Tightening protection orders, bail, sentencing and parole provisions for sex offenders;
Removing weapons from the accused; &
Empowering the police to arrest and enter premises without warrants if needed.
These Bills will further empower the state to deal with GBV. Parliament must now move with speed to send them to the President for his assent and government’s enactment.
However they will remain meaningless if government continues to reduce budgetary allocations to Legal Aid for victims, the courts and the South African Police Service. Equally government must ensure that all law enforcement, judicial, health, social development and education officials are properly trained to enforce them. Public education programmes are critical if we are to stem the onslaught against women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Issued by Matthews Parks, Parliamentary Coordinator, COSATU, 12 September 2021