Pretoria: 23 November 2022
Gender Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa and globally – now declared a ‘second pandemic’ – continues to draw special focus in the coming week, with Friday, 25 November 2022 marking the start of the United Nations (UN) sponsored “16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children” worldwide.
In South Africa, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) the country’s maritime sector that is a backbone for international trade through shipping transport and related, is a critical economic sector in which thousands of people of all genders work. Yet, even as also known and acknowledged as affected by GBV, it has remained generally quiet about it.
In a statement on Tuesday in Pretoria, SAMSA said that eerie and unjustifiable silence finally gets to an end this year, come Thursday, 24 November 2022 in Cape Town, where the sector will have its inaugural GBV seminar focused specifically on GBV and related relevant sector specific efforts to fight and end it.
SAMSA, a State agency under the Department of Transport is the organiser of the event.
Leading keynote speakers lined up for the industrial sector pioneering event include Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, World Maritime University President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Ms Lena Dyring of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) as well as maritime academic and veteran female seafarer, Dr Momoko Kitada of the World Maritime University.
According to SAMSA, the purpose of the first-of-its-kind sector-wide seminar is to provide opportunity to the country’s maritime to lay bare publicly the challenges of GBV it is confronted with, and to also outline measures current, or planned towards its stemming and eventually eradication.
“Statistics from various studies conducted so far locally and globally paint a horrific picture of a maritime industry in South Africa and elsewhere, that is rife with deep-seated and widespread GBV and which unsurprisingly, impact negatively particularly women.
“A 2014 survey led by International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and its partners revealed that 17% of women seafarers reported sexual harassment as an issue. The survey report further indicated that women with less power (lower rank) in the workplace were more vulnerable to sexual harassment. This was in line with previous studies done on the subject. Cases of sexual harassment continue to grow worldwide, and South Africa is no exception.
“In yet another most recent study on GBV in the maritime sector whose outcome was shared publicly at end October 2022 in Geneva, from a group of 1128 women interviewed WISTA in 78 countries including 51 in South Africa, as many 60% of the women had encountered gender-based discrimination at work, while 66% of these concurred that their male counterparts resorted to harassing and intimidating female co-workers,” says SAMSA.
The agency further says, with South Africa being a Member State of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the country is among eight (8) Member States tasked by a joint working group involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and IMO to not only identify solutions to address seafarers’ issues and the human element, but also to focus specifically on strategies and tactics aimed at addressing sexual assault and harassment in the maritime sector.
The approach is by no means divorced from this year’s national Government’s theme for the 16 Days campaign. The theme for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for 2022 is: “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide: Connect, Collaborate, Contract!”
SAMSA says: “Thursday’s seminar in Cape Town, therefore, will serve as a launchpad for the SAMSA Maritime GBV Programme now embedded in its five (5) year Strategic and Annual Performance Plan for 2022-25, to effectively raise awareness and promote the mainstreaming of GBV issues within the maritime industry. Stakeholders engaged and involved in the seminar include, maritime welfare community, manning organisations, ship owners and seafarers,” says SAMSA
The seminar will have two parts: the main event taking place on 24 November 2022, with a participation of approximately 100 people in the room and a possibly wider audience both in South Africa and globally to be engaged through livestreaming of the event on several online social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube.
On the following day, Friday 25 November 2022, SAMSA will conduct a GBV educational material distribution to seafarers within the port of Cape Town. The walk-about and engagement with seafarers at the port will involve some of SAMSA’s Executive Management members and selected guests.