Mr Speaker,

Last month I asked this house to pay respect to the bravery of women living in conditions which physically place them at enormous risk. 

Women and girls who must walk at night through dark unlit narrow alleys that not even the police are prepared to patrol.

I also spoke of girls and women who are forced to walk in the dark to distant taxi ranks, or travel in train carriages where they are groped, robbed or assaulted.

Of course gender-based violence and femicide takes place in every community – affluent and poor.  

But for some women the urban form of our towns and cities disproportionately disempowers them and forces them to face risks they could otherwise minimise.

Debates and discussions don’t help.  We need action. 

To the DA, who govern this province:

1. Create safe spaces.  Give women who face violence the option to leave.

When I asked, the Minister for Social Development confirmed that there is a shortage of thousands of bed spaces in homeless shelters.  

This means that there are not enough spaces for victims of gender-based violence, never-mind the homeless, to go to. 

Build more shelters – now!
2. Ensure that the Police treat women who report domestic or sexual violence with dignity and respect.

How are our Police Stations handling the enforcement of protection orders?  The stories are horrifying. But they are also old and well-known.

Use the oversight functions, and the Western Cape Community Safety Act, to audit police stations to check how women’s complaints are being handled.

3. Make it safer for women and girls to use public transport

Last year we implemented a Rail Enforcement Unit to improve safety on trains. 

4. Keep the Rail Enforcement Unit going to protect our commuters 

Send MyCiTi back to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain so that women and girls do not have to walk through the dark to get to remote taxi ranks; so that they have an affordable, safe option for getting to school or work and back.

The ANC introduced this topic for debate:
5. Define femicide in law as a specific offence and legislate against men who offend

Last week GOOD leader, Patricia de Lille, proposed an amendment to criminal laws to make special provision for femicide as a crime.

Make sure your Government and colleagues fast-track that amendment so we can offer better legislative protection as soon as possible.

Mr Speaker

Of course laws and criminal interventions will never resolve this scourge. We need to look at how we are raising boys into men.

What we teach about masculinity.

Why femicide and gender based violence happens and what we need to do to stop it.
We can and we should look to the law to introduce action.
But we must also look at ourselves and at each other and find our role in ending this.

Cameron Arendse