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More efficient maintenance courts needed

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There are increased calls on national government to allocate adequate funding to allow for maintenance courts to function efficiently. This comes as South Africa marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism for women and children.

A number of women picketed outside the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on Thursday calling on national Government to improve services to people who seek assistance at the Maintenance courts. The event was organised by the DA Women’s Network who handed over a memorandum of demands to the department.

The DAWN is requesting that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Michael Masutha, to reply to the demands in the memorandum before the end of the 16 Days of Activism.

According to MP and leader of the DA Women’s Network, Denise Robinson, the memorandum called for an increase in funding to the Maintenance Courts to ensure that the efficient and compassionate handling of maintenance cases. It also demands that turnaround times for maintenance cases be reduced, that efficient mechanisms to trace maintenance defaulters are instituted and that more maintenance officers are employed to decrease the current case load.

Robinson said that more maintenance courts should be built as too many areas have no designated maintenance courts which mean that women often have to travel long distances to access these courts.

“We need to address these queues. Many women have to take the day off from work, some have to find caregivers to look after their children…only to spend an entire day waiting at the courts. Sometimes, they are turned away,” she said.

“Realistically we don’t expect these demands to be met anytime soon, however, in February of next year we wish to see an improvement.”

She added that they need more finances for justice, health and education.

Millions of women across the country bear the brunt of single handedly raising their children, without any support from the children’s fathers.

Millions continue to struggle, sometimes for years to make ends meet as the courts fail to hold fathers accountable for paying maintenance fees to support their children.

“The failure of maintenance courts has perpetuated gender- based economic and social inequality and has undermined the rights of women in South Africa,” Robinson said.

Robinson says that women should speak out and stand up for their rights as they are living in a democratic country and therefore should discontinue suffering in silence as there are many people who are willing to assist these women.

“The contribution women make towards the society cannot be underestimated. It is this important that our society become a society that does not place burdens on women which hinders their economic freedom, social advancement and self actualization.

For any additional information, enquiries or assistance contact Denise via SMS on 0836432843 or email VOC (Loushe Jordaan)

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