Activism against the abuse of women and children must be observed throughout the year, activists and parties say

Activism against the abuse of women and children must be observed throughout the year, activists and parties say. Picture: File

Activism against the abuse of women and children must be observed throughout the year, activists and parties say. Picture: File

Published Nov 27, 2023


Activists and victims of gender-based violence (GBV) said 16 Days of Activism for No Against Women and Children is another talk-shop.

Saturday marked the start of 16 Days of Activism and it will come to an end on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.

According to a report by released on November 14, as of the 2022/23 fiscal year, almost 53 900 South Africans reported being a victim of a sexual crime. Of those, around 80% registered being raped, while close to 7 600 South Africans disclosed being sexually assaulted.

Tabling his report in Parliament on November 17, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that, “rape cases remained stubbornly high with 10 516 reported incidents”.

A GBV victim, Sandy Kantilal from Alberton in Ekurhuleni, said she has been abused by her husband for over two decades. She reported her abuse to the police, but is experienced secondary victimisation by individuals in the SAPS and judiciary system including lawyers, prosecutors, magistrates and judges.

“16 Days of Activism is just another talk-shop. It has no impact on the victims who have to go through the system, only to have their abuse intensified by the justice system. So it makes no difference to the GBV victims,” said Kantilal.

She is currently attending a number of cases at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court.

“The legal system only intensifies your trauma which is why women give up following up on GBV cases,” she said.

Pan-Africanist feminist and independent anti-GBV activist, Rosie Motene, said there is no celebration.

“How much more blood needs to be shed? The government needs to reflect on its lack of accountability and deliverables. We need a new police minister. There are thousands of rape accusations against SAPS officers and nothing has been done. Alleged and convicted perpetrators know how to work the judicial system for their benefit. We are still in a crisis. Our lives are not your PR campaign,” Motene said.

UNICEF reported that “more than three children and 12 women were murdered daily in South Africa over a 90-day period between October and December 2022. Another 21 434 children and women suffered attempted murder of grievous bodily harm”.

Political party, Transformation Alliance (TTA), believes that 16 Days are not enough. Activism against woman and child abuse cannot be an event, it should be a lifestyle.

The party said all these stats are incredibly high and alarming.

“We cannot continue to wait for 16 Days of Activism to speak out and fight this scourge. TTA urges South Africans to make activism against woman and child abuse, a lifestyle and not an event. Take it beyond the 16 Days,” said party leader Abel Tau.

The EFF said it marks the commencement of the campaign as another opportunity to intensify the war against GBV, femicide and child abuse.

The Red Berets said the campaign in South Africa is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about GBV and promote action against violence towards women and children.

The party said it notes the continued pervasive culture of misogyny and neglect towards issues surrounding violence against women and children in the country.

GBV has remained a leading cause of death and injury among South African women with horrifying reports of rape, domestic violence, and femicide.

Party spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said one of the major contributors to the negligence on the issues of GBV is a lack of political will and resources allocated towards addressing the issue.

“Despite the high prevalence of GBV, many law-enforcement agencies have not taken the issue seriously, resulting in incidents of gross negligence in handling cases of abuse. This has eroded public trust in government institutions and fostered a culture of impunity for perpetrators,” Thambo said.

He further said: “It is for this reason that the EFF has launched EFF GBV Comfort centres in all of its offices for victims to receive first line of defence and healing, and encouragement to pursue justice. The EFF has also launched massive self-defence programmes across its branches.

“Let us all stand against the abuse of women and children not only for the period of 16 Days of Activism against their abuse, but at all times,” Thambo said.

The campaign was initiated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and has since been adopted by many countries worldwide.

In South Africa, the campaign has gained significance due to the high levels of GBV in the country. It serves as a platform for women’s rights activists, non-governmental organisations, and government officials to come together and work towards ending violence against women and children.

The Star

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