Enter your keyword

Project 2: Women, Children & the Family

During the three years covered by this proposal, the Women, Children & the Family Project will focus on various topics pertaining to each of the three categories. In some cases, of course, the topics are cross-cutting, since they involve both women and children, for example. We plan, as far as practically possible, to carry out at least one activity (a publication, an event or a submission) for each of these topics in each of the three years.

  1. Children’s Amendment Bill: Partial Care

Partial care is provided when a person takes care of more than six children on behalf of their parents or care-givers during specific hours of the day or night, or for a temporary period, by agreement between the parents or care-givers and the service provider. New amendments to the Children’s Act of 2005 aim to regulate partial care, which has been unregulated up to now. We will track this legislation and make submissions and interventions as it makes its way through Parliament.

  1. Child Homicides

The level of inter-personal violence in our country is extreme, and children are not exempt. The number of child killings continues to escalate, with young children most likely to be killed by someone known to them, and often close to them. Child victims are predominately from poor families and communities that experience severe economic hardships. Children in dysfunctional households with poor parental support and supervision are particularly vulnerable as are those from children in families who abuse alcohol and drugs. 

  1. Gangs and Gang Violence: Inside and Outside Prison

The recruitment of children into gangs is common, while other children are victims of gang related violence. Poverty, enduring inequality, unemployment, peer pressure, and the lack of positive role models all play a part in the development of gangs and the harm they do to communities.

There is a relationship between prison gangs, which continue to be a feature of our correctional system, and street gangs. Chronic overcrowding in all prisons and the high number of prisoners on remand, exacerbate the problem. On the positive side, there is increasing support for the use of non-custodial measures so as to reduce overcrowding in prisons.

  1. Mental Health and Well-Being

Our society is overwhelmed by psycho-social, political, and economic upheaval, all of which are compromising the mental and emotional health of South Africans. The stress, anxiety, grief and worry of the COVID pandemic and the lockdown imposed to prevent its spread have taken their toll on people’s mental health and well-being. Unfortunately there is a massive shortage of psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors to deal with these issues, especially in the public health sector, and some provinces are even considering cutting their mental health care budgets in favour of other projects.

  1. Older Persons

A ‘society for all ages’ is a multigenerational society committed to creating the conditions of life able to fulfil the great potential that older people have. Older persons can and must continue to play a role as mentors and role models, as well as functioning as mediators and contributing to the resolution of conflict. However, access of older persons to health care and facilities in both urban and rural areas is challenging, as is their access to assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, spectacles and hearing aids. Older persons, especially those with impaired mobility, chronic health conditions and advancing frailty, can become very isolated, and they often lack ways of making their voices heard in the corridors of power. 

  1. Obstetric Violence and Maternal Well-Being

Obstetric violence is a global phenomenon which takes place at the hands of obstetric health workers during any encounter in the prenatal, intra-natal, and postnatal period. Obstetric violence consists of, but is not limited to, physical, verbal, sexual abuse and forms of violence, such as non-consensual procedures like enforced sterilizations. The human rights of women and their babies are compromised by such treatment and the systemic violence that accompanies it. This flies in the face of the policy prioritising the first thousand days of a child’s life, that is from conception to the age of two. (The Catholic Health-Care Association has indicated a willingness to collaborate with the CPLO on an event focusing on this topic.)

  1. The White Paper on Social Development

Poverty and social exclusion prejudice and compromise the rights of the poor and the vulnerable. This policy statement aims to deliver better services to vulnerable groups, which will result in a better quality of life and encourage the marginalized to participate in economic, political and social arenas. The paper sets out a developmental and legislative paradigm focused on a guiding vision, values and mission. However, the success of the policy depends on the inter-sectorial co-operation of other governmental departments for which it is a secondary function. Implementation is the challenge, and it does not seem that the Department of Social Development is sufficiently capacitated to deliver on its mandate.

  1. Early Child Development (ECD) and Child Protection

The responsibility for ECD has been removed from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Education. CPLO track and evaluate progress towards the goal of universal availability of ECD as it becomes part of the formal schooling system.

Section 28(1)(d) of the Constitution affords all children the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. Furthermore, section 28(2) pronounces that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child. In our research and comment on matters involving children we will use these criteria as a basis for evaluating proposed policies and their implementation.

  1. Gender-Based Violence and Femicide

CPLO has held numerous events, published a number of papers, and made submissions on various legal amendments over the years on this topic, and we will continue to do so as long as this ‘shadow pandemic’ plagues our society. We will also be monitoring the progress of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. In particular, we will explore how social media and digital devices can help in the prevention of GBVF.

  1. Health Care

There are concerns that diseases that were once considered as eradicated are re-emerging, with cholera being the most immediate concern. There have also been instances of malaria and dysentery. Many of these diseases affect children disproportionately, especially at a time when immunizations of children have been delayed due to the primary focus on COVID-19. This focus as also meant that treatment for HIV/AIDS and TB have taken a step backwards, as patients had difficulty in accessing their medication.

In addition, public hospitals across the country are experiencing shortages of staff, equipment failure, stock outs and infrastructure damage. None of these systemic issues are being addressed. There is no sense of urgency and patients suffer as a result.

  1. Disability

There is growing consciousness about disability and the rights of people with disability. CPLO will continue to monitor this sector, with particular focus on conditions that have not always been recognised as disabling. One example of this is albinism; if it were understood to be a disability, people living with albinism would qualify for a disability grant which would enable them to afford sun screen products and sun glasses.