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Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence makes promises, promises, and more promises…

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has repeatedly said it is making the eradication of gender-based violence (GBV) a priority. But as the recent presidential summit showed, the gap between promises and implementation is still vast.

“It was at the first Presidential Summit on GBV and Femicide in 2018 that we collectively made a firm commitment to the nation to undertake a comprehensive, effective and united response to gender-based violence and femicide,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told an audience of about 1,300 in Midrand on 1 November.

Ramaphosa was reporting back, four years after the inaugural Presidential Summit, on progress since that “firm commitment”. Yet, even he had to admit: “There is much more that still needs to be done.”

Two out of 10 pledges met:

Daily Maverick identified 10 key promises made by Ramaphosa’s administration on GBV since 2018. These were drawn from resolutions taken at the first Presidential Summit, from the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBV & Femicide, and from other pledges made by, for instance, Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Of these 10 promises, we found that two have been clearly fulfilled to date. The first involves a pledge made by Ramaphosa, at the first summit, to fast-track all pending legislation relating to GBV and femicide. As he told his Midrand audience this week, the president signed into law in January 2022 three pieces of legislation – the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act – aimed at ensuring that “perpetrators are no longer able to use legislative loopholes to evade prosecution”.

The second promise kept was meeting a call from gender activists to tighten protection offered by the National Register for Sex Offenders. These changes, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told the summit this week, came into effect at the end of July 2022.

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