South African president proclaims commencement of legislation against rising gender-based violence

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Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has proclaimed the commencement of legislation that establishes dedicated sexual offences courts to combat rising gender-based violence, the Presidency said on Thursday.

The joint effort by the government and civil society against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has received a significant impetus with the commencement of the Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act which provides for the establishment of courts dedicated to matters related to sexual offences, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.

The new legislation provides for these courts to have certain facilities and measures in place to render services that will better protect complainants, enhance the quality of prosecutions and evidence to be given in sexual offence cases, and minimize secondary trauma for complainants.

These focused services are intended to make it easier for complainants to report offences and to give evidence in trials, as a means of deterring potential offenders from breaking the law, according to the Presidency.

The commencement of the legislation is a significant development in the context of the government’s implementation in partnership with civil society of the Emergency Action Plan against GBVF, and the fulfilment of the anti-GBVF National Strategic Plan, Diko said.

Sexual offences courts will bring relief and justice to survivors of gender-based violence, Diko said.

South Africa is among countries that have the highest rate of gender-based violence. According to the 2018/2019 crime statistics provided by the South African Police Service (SAPS), 2,771 women and over 1,000 children were murdered in South Africa. Every day the police received about 100 cases of reported rape. Enditem

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