Topnews, Statements

20. Oktober 2022


H.E Ambassador Rapulane Molekane: Permanent Representative of  South Africa;

H.E. Ambassador Faouzia Mebarki: Permanent Representative of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime;

Ms Jane Marie Ongolo: UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa;

Ms Jakkie Wessels- Regional Court President - Limpopo, South Africa;

Ms Boemo Sekgoma -Secretary General for SADC Parliamentary Forum (joining us online);

Your Excellencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen

Gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) is a universal phenomenon and a global challenge we are all not proud of that requires all of us to put formidable efforts and resources to eradicate it. According to the WHO, globally, one in three women experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence during their lifetime. Undeniably, GBV&F has debilitating lasting consequences for women’s physical health, their sexual and reproductive health, as well as their mental health. Fundamentally, GBV is a violation of women’s human rights with adverse economic and social consequences for all. Victims of GBV seldomly seek professional help, preferring to keep their abuse secret due to various barriers, including discrimination and stigma.

South Africa’s response to GVB is guided by a number of international treaties, and a strong legislative framework, including the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act, and the Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act, amongst others. Whilst the aforementioned have proven to be useful tools, it is not enough to end GBV, especially within the cyber context.

Distinguished Delegates

The proliferation of Online Information Communication Technologies (OICTs) provides many opportunities, including enabling the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the full enjoyment of human rights, including gender equality. However, as with many developments, technological advancement in the last few decades has meant the extension of violence against women and children into a new dimension.

The growth of cyber technology has created a host of new challenges for law enforcement and justice officials. It has amplified the ease with which technology-facilitated gender-based violence is executed; and increased the likelihood of perpetrators, to evade detection.

Ostensibly, cyberviolence, against women and children, is a rising threat that every country must address as the world becomes more digital. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, various communities observed and reported an increase in the incidences of violence against women and children. This was said to be exacerbated by the need for, and use of, these Online Information Communication Technologies (OICTs).

Distinguished Delegates

Cyberviolence can have many forms, diverse impact, and can occur in various online platforms. Research suggests that 73% of women have already been exposed to or have experienced some form of online
violence in what must still be considered a relatively new and growing technology. Changing social attitudes and norms is the first step to shifting the way online abuse is understood as a serious challenge.

Violence is not new, but cyberviolence is, and the public needs to recognize this and address it as a priority issue. Cyberviolence, is a product of gender inequality and discrimination, that prevents women and children from participating equally in a digital society.

Distinguished delegates

Cyberviolence is not just a technological problem, but a societal one. In order to effectively combat cyberviolence against women and girls, the issue of ‘victim blaming’ needs to be emphatically addressed. This destructive response needs to be addressed as a primary issue of concern as there is no situation in which a violent act should be accepted or condoned as a result of personal judgement and social behaviour.

To combat these newest crimes against women and children, the criminal justice community needs to promote more efficient, innovative cyber investigations and swift prosecutions. Hence the training handbook launched here today for the Criminal Justice Practitioners on Cyber violence against women and girls is critically significant.

Eliminating on-line gender-based violence requires collaboration amongst states regionally and internationally as well as with internet service providers and the private sector.

To this end, South Africa looks forward to the text-based negotiations within the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate on a Comprehensive International Convention to Counter the Use of ICTs for Criminal Purposes. South Africa will join efforts to mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment by integrating a gender perspective into this future treaty.

On this note, I express my gratitude for your participation at this side-event and call upon all Member States to improve their capacity in order to address this pandemic on gender-based violence.




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