18 March 2021
March is observed annually as the Human Rights Month in South Africa. The month-long observation seeks to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of freedom and democracy that South Africa enjoys today.
As part of this year’s Human Rights Month programme celebrated under the theme: The Year of Charlotte Maxeke: Promoting Human Rights in the Age of Covid 19, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, will on Friday, 19 March 2021 lead the #Human Rights Walk Against GBVF (gender-based violence and femicide) from Mary Fitzgerald Square to the Constitutional Hill. The walk will culminate into a dialogue with community-based organisations that render child protection and victim empowerment services in Diepsloot. Diepsloot has been identified as one of the 30 GBV hotspots across the country.
The walk aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls who are entitled to the full enjoyment of their rights free from any form of violence.
South Africa has one of the highest GBV rates in the world, with the femicide rate that is reportedly five times higher than the global average (Stats SA, 2018). One need not look any further than the recent crime statistics released by the South African Police Service, which revealed a 5% increase in reported sexual offences between October-December 2020.
These violations took place as the country was under the national lockdown to contain the spread of corona virus. The very fact that women and girls live in fear of violence in their own homes where they are supposed to feel safe and protected, especially in the midst of a devastating global pandemic is an affront to their human rights.
The walk coincides with the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women currently underway to review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which South Africa has ratified. The walk is part of the 365 Days of Action to expedite the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (2019-2024).
Minister Zulu will be joined by Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Ms Mosupyoe Morakane, representatives of human rights and advocacy organisations, including UNICEF, SA Human Rights Commission, National Prosecuting Authority and ACT Now.
Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the events as follows:
09h00-11h00 5km Walk from Newtown to Constitutional Hill
Venue: Mary Fitzgerald Square, 120 Lillian Ngoyi Street, Newtown-Johannesburg
Time: 12h30-13h00visit to local SAPS office (victim-friendly facility)
13h00-15h00dialogue with community-based organisations
Venue: SAPS Diepsloot, 1 Ngonyama Street, Diepsloot
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT