The Star Early Edition - 2021-11-25





AS THE world gears up to commence the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, South Africa remains one of the most dangerous countries for women. These were the sentiments expressed by civil society organisations as the 16 Days of Activism Campaign starts today on International Day of No Violence against Women and ends December 10 on International Human Rights Day. It comes against the backdrop of the release of the second quarter crime statistics which revealed that 9 556 people were raped between July and September, a 7,1% increase. The figures also show a 7.7 % increase in number of women murdered and a 31.7% increase in the number of children murdered compared to the same period a year ago. There were 897 cases where women were killed – up from the previous year’s 833 cases. Child killing cases rose from 218 to 287. In line with the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice said it was seeking rapid and sustained change in the harmful cultural norms and patriarchal attitudes that drive gender inequality and human rights violations. “True gender equality will be impossible to achieve if we all continue to believe … that roles in our society can only be filled by either women or men,” Sonke said. The organisation has called on people to get involved, not stay silent and #SAYNO to gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). “#SAYNO so every survivor knows there’s someone right next door who cares and who will never be silenced,” Sonke said. The Embrace Project, Laura-Lee Gillion, and SA Women Fight Back (SAWFB) said despite civil society’s best efforts, South Africa had clinched the most dangerous country for women title in 2021. As a result, the organisations have lodged a formal complaint with Parliament against the Presidency for both its disregard of the issue and the state’s lack of political will to combat GBVF in South Africa. “They’ve pleaded with, petitioned and protested against the response of its democratically elected government – a government of the people – on the war being waged against them,” they said in a joint statement. The organisations added that with 110 reported rape cases and 140 reported sexual offences cases per day, South Africa had “shamefully” been named the most dangerous country in the world for women. “The lack of interest and political will displayed by the head of state and his office is a primary indicator of the reason that, in 2021, South Africa is the GBVF capital of the world. As the Constitutional Court of South Africa said 20 years ago, which is sadly even truer today: ‘Sexual violence and the threat of sexual violence goes to the core of women’s subordination in society. It is the single greatest threat to the self-determination of South African women’,” The Embrace Project, Laura-Lee Gillion, and SA Women Fight Back (SAWFB) said. Meanwhile, the Impilo Collection Foundation will, on Saturday, take to Constitutional Hill, where they will be issuing a memorandum to MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko, an urgent plea for leaders to do better in the fight to curb GBV. The foundation will also display over 6 000 quality bras donated by ordinary citizens. The number is symbolic of the devastating death toll seen. Impilo Collection Foundation said the display was an act of empowerment and restoration of dignity and that bras would be donated to women and girls facing these challenges.


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