Three GBV bills finally on their way to Parliament after Cabinet approval

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Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
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  • Cabinet has approved three bills intended to curb gender-based violence.
  • The bills will now be referred to Parliament to go through the legislative process.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Sunday commemorate Women's Day by participating in a "nationwide televised activity".

The long-awaited bills intended to help curb gender-based violence are on their way to Parliament after Cabinet approved them on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola announced the Cabinet had approved the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill; National Register for Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.

"These bills respond to a number of issues raised during the presidential summit against gender-based violence and femicide held in 2018 in respect of the criminal justice system," he said.

"The amendments provide a victim-centred response in the criminal justice system in respect of sexual offences. It tightens bail conditions for perpetrators of sexual offences.

READ | 'They are not statistics' - Ramaphosa speaks out on GBV

"Warrants of arrest will no longer be a requirement prior to law enforcement agencies responding to reported sexual crimes. Parole conditions are also strengthened and minimum sentences increased. The amendments also strengthen the consequences of contravening a protection order."

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill will also amend the National Register for Sex Offenders by broadening its scope from only children and mentally disabled persons, and extends it to protect all vulnerable groups.

Register

People who are in this register will be compelled to disclose this information when they submit applications to work with these groups.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill will facilitate the obtaining of protection orders against acts of domestic violence via electronic means.

It obliges the departments of social development and health to provide certain services to victims of domestic violence and aligns the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act and Protection from Harassment Act.

These bills have been eagerly awaited by MPs, particularly after President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a national address in June, urged them to process these bills without delay, even though they were not yet tabled in Parliament.

Lamola said the Cabinet had approved the Women's Month commemoration programme under the theme: "Realising women's rights for an equal future."

He added this year's commemoration would focus on "a call to action to champion women's rights and gender equality".

"Government is committed to the fight to eradicate gender-based violence and femicide.

"The month-long programme will enhance the mobilisation of women and strengthen organised formations of women towards a sustainable path of action on issues affecting them. On Sunday 9 August 2020, President Ramaphosa will undertake a nationwide televised activity together with a panel of guest speakers," said Lamola.

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