Thursday, October 13, 2011

Internet Activism

This week JAW staff members attended a workshop facilitated by Women's Net teaching participants to use the internet and social networking tools to engage in advocacy campaigns. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Mixit, and this blog can be an invaluable tool in helping us reach more community members, keep people interested and up to date about the work we are doing, and get feedback from our communities about how we can improve. We're hoping to start incorporating more technology into our work, so please let us know what you would like to see!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sexuality and Reproductive Health Training with the Access to Justice Team

The Access to Justice Team in Melmoth has been talking to community groups about sexuality and reproductive health. Here is part of a report about these conversations from Thobile Biyela:

I ask them is these sexual and reproductive rights protected in our communities they said no, and I ask them how? one boy said how can the married men accept this right said: you have a right to choose the number of children you want to have, because men paid a lobola and their aim is to raise their families, Inspector Ntuli respond to him whether you like or not but constitution said so and it is illegal to break a rule and we ask them what they feel about these rights, the most woman they look so happy and they said, they feel happy and one woman her name BG said this right said they have a right to choose the number of children, its need to supply in married people only because the young girl they get children in their home and if the parent want to punished them they said it is our rights and she complain about the money of Child Support Grant, it is a causes of many young children getting pregnant in an early stage. and one woman raise an issue of how can they do as the community members if they see a child get an abuse in his or her family because they afraid may be they can put their life in danger, we told them that they report it in social workers and they need to told them that they want to be anonymous person.

That woman raise an issue of in her area there is a girl of ten years old who was raped by her step father but her mother instead of open the case she takes a child and gives her step mother.
In that place this girl is sleeping with all the young boys and she have an infection because she heard her step mother said she was taking her to the clinic and she have a sore in her private parts shuuuuu it was a serious issue all people are in the room they look so said. And I told her that because we invite the people from the Government Department she need to ask that question, because all people in the room are look so sad and scared we done an ice-breaker. And they said it is difficult to refuse the sex if you are married and we ask them what make it difficult they said they respect their culture. And it is difficult for them to speak with these rights in the communities, but they will try.

We told them that we are not going to make them change their cultures but we want them to look things in a different ways. They said they are agreeing but it is difficult it will take a long time to understand these rights especially in the elders.

Monday, May 9, 2011

March and Petition on the National Policy Framework on Sexual Offenses

Ministers shop while communities continue to be terrorized by rapists - Press Release from JAW and Shukamisa Campaign about March to Parliament on April 15, 2011

Last month there was a furore when it emerged that a huge delegation of South African ministers and assorted hangers-on had forced themselves onto the guest list of the UN’s gender summit and then failed to attend a single session. And while Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and others were spending thousands of taxpayers’ rands on lavish hotels, under-funded community organizations were struggling on to halt the scourge of sexual violence.

The recent spate of marches and protests across the country shows the extent to which communities have had enough of shoddy - if not non-existent - provision of care to victims of rape and sexual assault. On Friday [15 April 2011] a wide cross section of community-based organizations marched on the KwaZulu Natal legislature in protest.

The level of anger is so high that when Bongiwe Zondi of Justice and Women asked how many people would be attending from Sweetwaters township near Pietermaritizburg, the reply was: “How many buses can you send to fetch us? We are tired of rapists terrorising our community!”

The marchers said that even if these rapists are arrested, they are generally swiftly released on laughably low bail and allowed to return to the community to intimidate victims and witnesses into withdrawing charges. Rape survivors are often not provided with post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection and also have to contend with shocking levels of ignorance and misogyny both from the police and the justice system.

Zondi recently took on the case of a lesbian who was raped. The magistrate in the matter chose to declare her an unreliable witness on the grounds that she had two children, and therefore could not really be a lesbian.

These are the very real challenges that community-based organisations face on a daily basis. But the National Policy Framework (NPF) mandated by the 2007 Sexual Offences Act, which could address many of these difficulties, is now more than two years late and has not been properly consulted around. The organizers of Friday’s march handed over a petition to the Legislature calling for movement and consultation around the NPF. Their action marks the start of a series of protests planned for the next few months by members of the Shukumisa Campaign to demand better treatment of victims of sexual violence.

The NPF needs to ensure that there are

· Clear standards for provision of services to victims of rape and sexual assault;

· Clear time-frames for implementation;

· Clear roles for civil society groups involved in victim support services

Adequate services for people with disabilities, children and gay and lesbian people.

The KZN march was organized by Justice and Women (JAW), Lifeline/Rape Crisis, Family and Marriage Society of South Africa (FAMSA), Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN), Vulamehlo, Masiphile Projects, and Umphithi Men’s Forum

Monday, January 31, 2011

HIV Testing in Pregnancy - A Report

Scale-up of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling of pregnant women: The South African experience. By Johanna Kehler, Amber Howard Cornelius, Sindi Blosse and Promise Mthembu.

As early as 2002, calls were made within the public health spheres to move away from the voluntary HIV counselling and testing approach to a more ‘routine offer’ of HIV testing in public health centres in order to increase the uptake of HIV testing.

In 2007, UNAIDS and WHO released guidance on provider-initiated testing and recommended, amongst others, that provider-initiated opt-out testing and counselling should be prioritised in antenatal, child birth and post natal healthcare services, despite recognising that women may be more at risk than men of discrimination, violence, abandonment or ostracism when their HIV status becomes known.

This ‘targeting’ of women in the scale-up of HIV testing, whilst recognising women’s greater risks of rights violations in this process, arguably highlights the extent to which the ‘public health need’ of HIV testing scale-up can override the need to reduce women’s risks and vulnerabilities to HIV-related rights abuses.

Download the full 32-page report.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The Shukumisa Campaign is moving and shaking things up in central KZN thanks to the energy and commitment of 6 NGOs from Pietermaritzburg.

Justice and Women, LifeLine/Rape Crisis, Centre for Criminal Justice, FAMSA, Pmb Gay & Lesbian Network, CREATE (a disability rights NGO) and community radio activist Nana Makhanya, launched the Shukumisa Campaign during the 16 Days of Activism. They will work together to monitor service to victims of sexual offences in the Regional and Sexual Offences Courts and Police Stations, in terms of the provisions of the VEP Charter and Batho Pele.

The areas they will cover include Pietermaritzburg and some suburban facilities, Melmoth, Eshowe, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Mooi River, Estcourt, Bergville, Ixopo, Highflats, Bulwer, Impendle, Mphopomeni and Howick.

The participating NGOs believe that the campaign should be conducted in a respectful and professional manner, and have been at pains to liaise with the Department of Justice and the SAPS prior to the monitoring visits which are scheduled to take place in January and February 2011. In keeping with this commitment, all monitors will carry their ID books, identify themselves by wearing a Shukumisa Monitor’s sash, be issued with documents from their parent organizations that authorize their activities and provide background information about Shukumisa.

In addition, to model the principle of accountability, the NGOs have developed a Code of Conduct (see below) that will govern the conduct of the monitors, as well as a Feedback Form for the respondents at the Courts and Police Stations to complete at the end of the monitors’ visits.

The 6 NGOs will be moving and shaking things up in central KZN long after the end of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign, and hope that their findings will result in improved services to victims of sexual offences – twenty-four/seven, 365 days a year.


1 Monitors will phone ahead and set up appointments at the Court or Police Station.

2 Monitors will be non-aggressive and non-confrontational.

3 Monitors will wear the white Shukumisa sash and introduce themselves using:
· the Shukumisa Campaign background letter
· the parent organisation’s staff verification letter
· their ID book
· the Shukumisa Code of Conduct
4 Monitors will be politely persistent. They will ask a question in 3 different ways in order to obtain an answer.

5 Monitors will be professional at all times, and will avoid becoming overly familiar with staff at the Police Stations or Courts.

6 Monitors will ensure that they adopt a professional dress code.

7 Monitors will keep their cell phones switched off for the duration of their visits.

8 Monitors will ask the interviewee to complete the Shukumisa Feedback Form.

9 Monitors will sign the SAPS Incident Register, say goodbye and thank the interviewee for their time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Highlights of Vienna Conference

Thinking about "Ädvocacy"
In general I found the conference centre accessible, even though it was huge. The conference centre was well organized so that people could choose what they were keen to know more about. Volunteers were helpful which made it even easier to register and to find more about the conference.
There are two issues which I found very interesting in the conference. The first issue was that "gender"was not clearly addressed in the conference. For example, women who were sitting on the panel as home-based carers did not address the topic of gender inequality in terms of how the economic burden of caring for the sick falls on women. Women are providing home-based care services without being paid, or without being paid a living wage. They did not discuss how their work is important WORK, and they were not questioning why they do this kind of work for government at their own cost.
the second issue was that in advocacy sessions "ëvidence" was a big concern. For example, even our own Minister of Health wanted evidence of how many women had been sterilised when giving birth to their babies, without their consent because they were HIV positive. The need to produce more "ëvidence" seemed like a way for people in power to evade addressing issues, even though they know that the govrnments themselves are not implementing monitoring systems to make sure people's rights are being protected. I do think that as activists we have to find ways of documenting abuses so that our concerns are not easily dismissed.
Take care!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Corruption in Melmoth Police Station

Corruption in Melmoth Police station is a big problem for the community. On the 24th of March the Njomelwane community members had a march protesting about corruption in Melmoth Police station and handed in the memorundum to the Station Commissioner complaining about the involvement of the police in the murder case of M.P. Biyela who was the taxi driver and the suspect who is the police not been arrested, the lost of dockets in the police station, police not responding to community complaints and the police not giving feedback on the investigations of cases. On the seventh of April the community invited Brigadier Wilson to the meeting and the demands were given to her about the police station and she didn't give the reasonable feedback to the community because after the march the superintendant who was working effectively with the community and was able to respond to community's complaints and who was telling the community the truth was transfered with immediate effect. The community was very upset and felt that that transfer should be delayed and the police station be dissolved within 24 hours because the community felt that there is no trust and faith in these police that are in Melmoth Police station. Despite all those community's demands, Brigadier W. said she has powers to dissolve the station but she is not going to do that and asked the community to give police second chance to make up to the community and gave the community 20 days to monitor the service of the police and to come to the CPF meeting on the 29th of April to give feedback. It was not clear that she was also going to attend that meeting.

Today the 12th of April the superintendant that was transfered but still waiting for her transfer approval, reported to Melmoth police station and was badly chased away by the staion commissioner and was told not ever to come to Melmoth Police staion. She then tried to speak to Brigadier who told her not ever to set foot on Melmoth police station and asked her to stay at home and threatned her not to attend any community meeting!
I feel that is not fair and it is not acceptable. I am appealing to everyone who can assists us as the community to fight this battle and get her back because she is really a good person to have in Melmoth police station to fight corruption as a result of her hard work exposing corruption the suspect that everyone was scared of , today he appeared in court meaning he is noe arrested. I feel that we need to fight for this police station to be dissolved even if we need to contact Nathi Mthethwa to give the memorandum to him is fine because we can't now stay in our homes and feel that we are safe because we understand that by taking more actions we are risking our own lives but I say what ever it takes I am not going to stop this battle like this and I am not going to keep quiet if I am still alive, I will keep quiet when I am dead!