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Statement on Outreach Outcomes of conditions of Women in the poverty stricken Makause Informal Settlement (Located in Primrose, Germiston)

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Media Statement

Immediate Release: 30 August 2019

To: Editors, Producers and Reporters

Women as the face of poverty: Makause Informal Settlement

Statement on Outreach Outcomes of conditions of Women in the poverty stricken Makause Informal Settlement (Located in Primrose, Germiston)

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I would like to acknowledge the presence of the following people and institutions:

  • Pastor Elias Leholo
  • Cllr Frans Ngomane
  • Mr Thato Mashiane from (COGTA)
  • Ms Vanessa Smith (Victim Empowerment Programme, SAPS in Primrose)
  • Mr Modise Koetle from City of Ekurhuleni
  • Mr Thapelo Mashete from Kitso Lesedi Youth Development
  • Primary Health Ward Based Outreach Programme
  • Community Development Workers
  • Members of the LGBTIQ+ Community
  • And members of the media

All protocol observed

I greet you all on this occasion as we close our commemoration of Women’s Month.

The past couple of weeks have given us a time and space to reflect on the struggles of Women who have come before us. We have done this with the intention of charting a prosperous future for women of this country. We have celebrated Women of 1956 in several ways over the past few weeks and it is fitting that we close the commemorations with a view to tap into the current scenarios.

Our reflections on the past should plant a seed of inquiry into the current status of women from all walks of life. In other words, our reflection should inspire us to look into the current situation in order to establish the extent to which Women have been emancipated in the current generation.

This form of inquiry rests with section 11 of the CGE Act of 1996 which makes it possible for us to investigate and monitor the state’s compliance on the fulfilment of gender equality. It is therefore the prerogative of the Commission for Gender Equality to assess the conditions of Women in its inquiry on status of Women. Such an inquiry should be extended to those Women who are often forgotten, those who find themselves in the impoverished regions of our country. This is of critical importance because, as we continue to venture into the status of Women in South Africa, we must ensure that we leave no one behind, certainly not the Women of Makause Informal Settlement.

In this informal settlement, Women bear the face of poverty, abuse, and discrimination in several ways. Prior to our visit to Makause Informal Settlement, we were startled to learn the following:

  • There is a prevalence of domestic violence cases which are often reported over weekends – and we have learnt that the perpetrators are often the same people.
  • Many children in this community are prone to physical and sexual violence due to the neglect of children. As such we have even learnt of a case where a mother of two was recently arrested by police for handcuffing her child while she went out for the evening.
  • There are several unresolved cases of rape in the community.
  • We have noted with concern several incidents of fraudulent marriages as a result of a syndicate that lures Women into false marriages.
  • There are low levels of literacy amongst Women who live in the community
  • Women who work for the Expanded Public Works Programme are often victims of sexual harassment and exploitation

Apart from the issues I have now highlighted; most shacks in the informal settlement of Makause are headed by females and by implication, it means that Women in this community are likely to be bread winners in their own right. This however is unlikely to be case due to a level of poverty that surrounds this community. In other words, Women in this community are likely to bear the brunt of poverty a lot more than men due to the social circumstances that surround this community. Poverty in the context of this community is denoted by inadequate access to water, electricity and poor sanitary conditions.

All of the these have a negative impact on the conditions of Women and state of health and security. For example, Women’s safety is often compromised by the fact that 10 families share 1 toilet – this presents a risk of rape, sexual assault, and health related problems. We are told that these toilets are only cleaned three times a month, thereby presenting further environmental and health risks.

Whilst making reference to issues of health, we have also noted that very few Women in this community have access to reproductive health services.

We acknowledge the continued presence of health care workers, police, community development institutions as well as community development workers who have a mammoth task of making sure that services of communities are met. The efforts of stakeholders such as department of health, the police, NGOs need to be commended.

Having said that, we are also aware that medical emergency workers and police often find it difficult to access community members in times of crises due to the narrow passages in between the dwellings. For example, ambulances often struggle to access dwellings where people need emergency treatment. I would like to leave it to your imagination as to what happens when Women give birth in the dead of night, or when Women call police in cases of domestic violence.

The same applies to police who find it difficult to gain access to dwellings where domestic violence has occurred.

It is in the interest of the Commission is to find a resolve to the following problems:

Matters related to violence

The Commission and its stakeholders seek a resolution to all matters that relate to violence that is perpetrated against women and children. The Commission and its stakeholders will be working together in a task team format in order to bring about the speedy resolution of cases of rape. It is important that in doing so we give the law enforcement officers and authority all the support they need to meeting this objective. Mechanisms are also needed to ensure that the high rate of domestic violence are tackled with the assistance of all parties are responsible for various interventions.

Gender abuse

The cases or complaints that have been brought to us as the Commission today, during the legal clinic we held, will be processed in order seek justice. The mandate of the Commission is to handle complaints and any matter that relates to gender abuse and discrimination. Having noted the sort of problems that have become pervasive in Makause, the Commission will ensure that there is no stone unturned. The complaints received today will be resolved through processes that are within out legal complaints manual.

Health and safety matters

It is important to note that the Commission has committed itself to promote and advance access to Sexual Reproductive Rights services. This is what is contained in our Annual Performance Plan. It is therefore the prerogative and interest of the Commission to ensure that adequate interventions are put in place in order to ensure that Women residents of Makause are given access to these services.

Having stated these interventions, we need to note that all of the factors that pose a problem and plight of Women of Makause, are directly linked to human rights. For instance, it is enshrined in our Constitution that access to basic services to all communities, remains a fundamental human right. It is also the right of citizens to be protected from crime, health hazards, and be given adequate safety within their surrounds. Failure to act and intervene in such social problems may imply a further violation of the rights of Women in this informal settlement. This is the reason why we take all of these problems seriously, including stakeholders who are present here.

From here henceforth, the Commission will be lending a hand to community based organisations and multi stakeholder government institutions in order to deal with these problems. I am aware that our Gauteng provincial office have already reached out to local government organisations as well as NGOs who function in the surrounds of Makause informal settlement – for the purpose of building a task team that will look into the issues of concern. Having said that, the Commission has the mandate and authority to monitor progress made by all government institutions as well as civil society in respect of matters of gender equality. We will indeed monitor progress in regard to the solutions that will be initiated by the task team.

As Women’s Month draws to a close, it is of utmost importance that we reiterate that poverty should no longer be pervasive to the extent that Women of Makause become its victims. As we often advance issues of Women empowerment during our commemoration of the Month of Women (or August month), we need to do so by making sure that we leave no one behind.

In spite of the poverty experienced by this communities, basic services related to health, protection, and safety remain an entitlement for all citizens including Women of this informal settlement. Poverty should never determine the extent to which Women of this community are able to access the most basic human needs.

We need to act. We need to act decisively.

We need to do all that is possible to protect the rights of those who bear the brunt of poverty and inequality.

I thank you!

Ms. Tamara Mathebula

Chairperson: Commission for Gender Equality

 

Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)

Date: 30 August 2019

Contact Person: Javu Baloyi

Tel: 083 579 3306

The Commission for Gender Equality is established in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.

Twitter Handle: @CGE_ZA. Facebook Page: Gender Commission of South Africa. Toll Free Number: 0800 007 709. GBV Toll Free Number: 0800 428 428 Witness, Survivors and victims of GBV can send Please Call Me at *120*7867#

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