Written Submission to the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change

Following the Round Table on Hate Crimes, Race, Class, Gender Discrimination and Xenophobia on Thursday 8 June 2017

Executive Summary and Recommendations

Sonke Gender Justice (‘Sonke’) is currently involved in a broad range of advocacy work aimed at creating the necessary change for men, women, young people and children to enjoy. Advocacy around each of its projects often has components addressing hate crimes, race, class, gender discrimination and xenophobia and creating and recommending legal interventions aimed at addressing these. We therefore have a great interest in making this submission to the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change (‘High Level Panel’).

The recommendations set out in this submission are categorised according to three themes:

  1. Recommendations aimed at combating gender-based violence;
  2. Recommendations aimed at reducing sexual violence in prisons; and
  3. Recommendations aimed at enhancing gender equality and preventing violence.

In relation to our main recommendations aimed at combating gender-based violence, we have noted that the current legal frameworks in place do not adequately protect populations vulnerable to gender-based violence. Accordingly, Sonke recommends that the legal structural deficiencies in this regard be remedied.

Specifically, we recommend that:

  • Contrary to the South African Law Reform Commissions recent recommendations, all legislative provisions including national, provisional and municipal legislation criminalising sex work or making it an offence, should be repealed.
  • A national strategic plan on gender-based violence be formulated in partnership with civil society;
  • The implementation failures and gaps in the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 be addressed and that the Act be implemented effectively;
  • The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 32 of 2007 be amended to provide for disaggregation of statistics released by the South African Police Services in relation to sexual offences; and
  • Sonke’s recommendations regarding amendments to the Liquor Amendment Bill setting out interventions targeting alcohol abuse and its links to gender-based violence be implemented.

In relation to recommendations aimed at reducing sexual violence in prisons, Sonke – as one of the key stake holders in driving the return of human rights to prisoners in South Africa – recommends that two legislative amendments be made:

  • The Policy to address Sexual Abuse of Inmates in Department of Correctional Services Facilities which was approved in 2013 and aims to prevent the scourge of sexual violence in our prisons, be implemented; and
  • Legislation regulating the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (‘JICS’) – the key watchdog mechanism for the correctional services regime in South Africa – be reviewed and amended to provide for 1) the legal, operational, institutional and financial independence of JICS, and 2) to define its functions and powers.

Finally, regarding recommendations aimed at enhancing gender equality and preventing violence, Sonke recommends that legislative amendments be made which aim to further promote child rights and gender equitable, non-violence and positive parenting. Specifically, Sonke recommends that:

  • The Labour Laws Amendment Bill be fast-tracked in order to implement parental leave policies that will have a gender-transformative impact.
  • In addition, it recommends that legislation be developed and implemented banning corporal punishment in the home.
  • Although not addressed in this submission, Sonke recommends that the submissions of the Hate Crimes Working Group on the draft Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, be accepted.