Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre
Project: Promoting state accountability to women experiencing violence
Location: South Africa
Duration: 2011 -2012
Partner: Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC)
In South Africa, there are unacceptably high rates of violence perpetrated by those intended to protect women, most notably the police:
- Every 17 seconds a woman is raped, yet less than 1% of rapes end in a successful prosecution
- South Africa’s police services are not fulfilling their duties under the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), ultimately abusing their power and failing the women they are supposed to protect
- There is little accountability of police officers found guilty of misconduct, and a systematic failure of state organisations and internal disciplinary proceedings to address the problem.
What Womankind is doing
Womankind and our partner are working to reduce the incidences of violence against women perpetrated by the South African Police Force.
By providing legal services and representation to individual women affected by police misconduct, we are working to ensure women subjected to abuse of police power access their right to justice.
We are achieving this by:
- Policy development, legislative reform and advocacy, essential to ensuring women’s access to justice
- Producing a booklet outlining the steps that need to be taken should a woman wish to make a formal complaint against a police officer
- Convening meetings with civil society organisations to devise a referral system for misconduct complaints
- Drafting of national regulations for the public when dealing with police misconduct
- Receiving, documenting and responding to complaints of police misconduct, ensuring they reach particular institutions
What we have achieved so far
In August, 2011 TLAC was given the opportunity to address parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee on the police’s implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA). Drawing on the organisation’s research over the years, TLAC’s report led the Police Committee to demand a written report from the police explaining these multiple failures.
The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service subsequently issued a memorandum to all stations in the country instructing them to apply the DVA’s prescripts. The Visible Policing division of the Police Service also formed a task team to address the non-implementation of the DVA and have been working with the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) on this.
Between this initiative and the work to develop new regulations around oversight of the DVA, a watershed moment has been created that has the potential to significantly reduce police misconduct in relation to domestic violence.
The project has also increased communities’ access to information about laws and rights by establishing relationships with the Gauteng Shelter Network and the Treatment Action Campaign. This has resulted in a noticeable increase in the number of requests for legal advice from shelters