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Amnesty International: Less lip service, more action to end GBV scourge

As the country marks the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Amnesty International says authorities need to do more to protect women and children.

According to the crime statistics released by the police minister earlier this week, more than 13 000 sexual offences were reported between July and September this year.

These include 10,590 rape cases.

“There was an increase in all categories of sexual offences compared to the same period last year, showing that things are not getting any better,” reads the statement by the NGO.

Amnesty International South Africa executive director Shenilla Mohamed says the state is failing to realise its obligation to protect the right to life and security.

"We are sick and tired of the government saying GBV remains 'worrying' and 'a concern'. The police and the state continue to fail all who live in South Africa by not acting. This failure to do more is violating people's rights to safety, life, and dignity.”

The organisation has lambasted President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying since he announced a number of initiatives to help fight gender-based violence and femicide (GBFV), very few of these have been implemented while GBVF remains staggeringly high in the country.

The organisation says one of its biggest concerns is the forensic DNA backlog.

“Last month, we wrote an open letter to Police Minister Bheki Cele demanding that reliable information on the backlog be made public, as the existing backlog at the Forensic Science Laboratories is denying victims of GBVF access to justice.

“In March this year, Cele told the country that the DNA backlog would be cleared within six months. However, after the DNA board appeared in parliament in October to provide the portfolio committee with an update, the minister then said the backlog would be cleared by the end of January 2023.”

Mohamed says citizens are tired of having the goalpost for ending the backlog moved.

"We also cannot accept the DNA backlog as a continued excuse for why there is no justice for victims of GBVF and their families. This is only one component of a broken criminal justice system.”

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