Womantra: Offences against women should disqualify would-be MPs

The NGO Womantra on Saturday questioned why there are candidates contesting the August 10 general election who are alleged to have committed offences against women.

In a post on its Facebook page, the group said, "We have witnessed the nomination of a candidate currently before the courts on charges of rape and sexual assault."

Womantra alleged an interim protection order had been granted against another candidate. It also said there were serious online allegations involving sexual offences being levelled against another candidate.

Womantra said this underscores the need for urgent and collective attention to violence against women in politics.

The group also asked the police to take all allegations made against political officials or aspiring representatives seriously and commence investigations promptly, particularly given the impending election of August 10."

Saying that Parliament is no place for patriarchy, the group wanted Section Four of the Constitution amended so that people convicted of any offence involving sexual harassment or assault are disqualified from being elected or appointed a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate respectively.

Section Four protects citizens from "discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex." Under this section, people are granted several fundamental rights and freedoms. These include the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law; freedom of movement; and freedom of the press.

Womantra wants the Parliament's Privileges Committee (which is not extant at present, since Parliament was dissolved on July 5), to update rules pertaining to parliamentary language to "admonish the use of sexist statements, comments or words."

Womantra also encouraged people who have "witnessed acts of sexism or assault especially in public office" to make a report to the police. The group said any instances of revenge porn should be swiftly investigated by the police's cyber crime unit.

It concluded, "Violence against women cannot be business as usual and we demand more from our leaders."

Political parties could not be reached on Saturday for comment on Womantra's claims.


"Womantra: Offences against women should disqualify would-be MPs"

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