Sonke’s MenCare campaign advocates for men’s involvement in unpaid care work and promotes gender equitable and non-violent fatherhood.
On 22 September 2016 Sonke, together with Mosaic submitted to parliament on the Labour Laws Amendment Bill. The Bill proposes that fathers receive 10 days of paternity leave at the birth of their child and suggests provisions on leave for adoptive parents.
While we endorse the general intent of the bill, we submitted improvements based on international evidence of best practices in paid leave policy. The four improvements we suggest are:
Read the Labour Laws Amendement Bill
Read Sonke and Mosaic’s Submission to the Portfolio Committee of Labour on the Labour Laws Amendment Bill
Read the Mencare Parental Leave Platform
Stop Gender Violence Campaign
South Africans experience unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence (GBV). According to the most recent crime statistics, 51 895 sexual offences were reported to the police between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. Research indicates that due to under-reporting of incidents, the true number could be up to 9 times higher. Over the last 20 years, South Africa has adopted a range of progressive policies and laws designed to address GBV but implementation has been weak and the brutal assault and killing of women remains pervasive.
Sonke is a founding committee member of the Stop Gender Violence Campaign (formerly the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence Campaign). One of the key outcomes of the campaign is for the South African government to develop a fully-costed, multi-sectoral, comprehensive national strategic plan on GBV. The hope is that this will lead to improved psycho-social service provision to victims of GBV, as well as the reduction of GBV. This can be achieved by amending and implementing existing legislation, addressing the key structural drivers of GBV (such as alcohol abuse, unemployment, and gender norms), and ensuring that adequate government funding is allocated to the cause.
Currently, the Campaign is conducting provincial consultations with individuals and civil society organisations in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Limpopo, KZN, North West and the Free State. Through this we’re aiming to strengthen our impact in all the provinces, in order to reach more people in supporting an end to GBV.
Sonke is co-founder and co-coordinator of the Detention Justice Forum, a coalition of NGOs and activists working to advance detainee rights and well-being. In this capacity, we advocate for the transformation of detention facilities in South Africa, in an effort to ensure that prisoners’ human rights are respected.
The main aims of this project include:
Sonke is currently involved in civil society consultations for the development of the new National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB, which aims to reduce and prevent infection in South Africa. We are specifically advocating for the inclusion of prisoners as a key population for HIV, so that they will be considered a vulnerable group who should be targeted for HIV interventions. We are also in the process of advocating to establish a SANAC (South African National AIDS Council) Prisoners’ Sector. SANAC serves to foster engagement between government, civil society and other stakeholders on the issue of HIV, STIs and TB. It currently has 17 civil society sectors, which are targeted for HIV, STI and TB interventions and prevention strategies. The prisons sector is currently not represented by SANAC, which we seek to change as this will ensure that prisoners’ rights to HIV treatment and prevention efforts are taken into account.
On 21 September, Sonke made a submission to the Portfolio Committee for Justice and Correctional Services on the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS). The primary issues related to: (a) JICS’ lack of financial and institutional independence – it is beholden to the Department of Correctional Services, the very department that it is mandated to oversee, for funding and accountability, which effectively negates its efficacy as an oversight body; and (b) JICS’ unclear statutory mandate and the fact that its recommendations are not binding.
We are also in the process of setting down a date to litigate against the Department of Correctional Services to ensure that the conditions at Pollsmoor Remand Centre are improved.
Watch “They Treated Us Like Animals” Sonke’s documentary on the deplorable conditions in the overcrowded Cape Town facility here.
Decriminalisation of sex work
Sonke, as co-founding member of the Asijiki Coalition, advocates for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa.
Together with Asijiki, we successfully executed several advocacy strategies at the International AIDS Conference held in Durban in July this year, where numerous comments were made by prominent South Africans in support of sex work decriminalisation:
On 19 July 2016, during his speech entitled “Protecting human rights and reducing stigma”, Justice Edwin Cameron said: “Sex work is work”. He later stated that: “Laws that criminalise sex work are a profound evil”
On 18 July 2016, during his plenary address at the official opening press conference of the AIDS Conference, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “We need to design and implement programmes that address the needs of key populations …including sex workers”
On 19 July 2016, Zak Yacoob, a former justice of the Constitutional Court, stated the following in his opening statement at a symposium entitled “Courage in Leadership: World Leaders with the Political Will to Remove Punitive Laws: “The criminalisation of sex work…is utterly inconsistent with the Constitution.” He continued: “We want to create a caring society where all vulnerable people, including sex workers, have their dignity respected and protected and have not actually become criminals”.
Sonke is working closely with the Asijiki Coalition on lobbying for rapid law reform on sex work. On 17 August, Parliament held a roundtable discussion on the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa, with submissions made by Asijiki members.This represented an important step forward in raising awareness on the issue.
Sex work in SA: the facts
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