Skip to main content

South Africa (Sexual Violence)

Volume 561: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2013

Levels of gender-based violence in South Africa are among the highest in the world. The UK Government have committed £4 million to working with the South African Government, UN agencies and civil society to tackle the root causes.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Constituents of mine have raised concerns about the levels of sexual violence in South African schools. Has his Department had any contact with the Congress of South African Students to discuss that distressing situation?

We have contact with many organisations in South Africa, including Rape Crisis and the Women’s Legal Centre, which works to improve access to justice for poorer people. Our high commissioner has given a series of radio interviews about the issue. We would be happy to add to that work and to those contacts, so I will look specifically at the organisation to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

As chair of the all-party South Africa group, may I tell my right hon. Friend how pleased we are about the money that the Foreign Office has made available? Will he use his good offices, those of our high commissioner and our role in the Commonwealth to show how unacceptable such behaviour is in South Africa, and indeed in other parts of the Commonwealth?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and absolutely agree with her. I mentioned how active the British high commissioner has been in highlighting the issue, including during South Africa’s 16 days of activism on gender-based violence in November last year. She also raised awareness of the issue at an international women’s day reception just last month, in March. We will continue that work, with the encouragement of this House.