Gender-based violence has been on the rise. [Picture: Vuk’uzenzele]
South Africa joins the rest of the world in observing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from November 25 until December 10. This comes against the backdrop of jaw-gaping crime statistics revealed by the Police minister last week.
16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a campaign aimed at eradicating femicide and all forms of violence against women. It has been running annually since the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. However, many feel the situation seems to have worsened at home.
“We have to understand that South Africa, as a society, is a very violent society. We obviously saw that with the recent stats that the minister of Police released,” said Cassandra Guerra, a researcher at the Embrace Project.
Last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele presented a worrying picture about crime trends for the second quarter of 2022. Among them, 989 women were killed between July 1 and September 30. Another 1 277 women were victims of attempted murder. There were also 10 000 cases of rape reported during that period.
Uniting to address the scourge
The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is unity. Guerra said it was important for men and women to unite across the country to find solutions to the problem.
“It is about all of us coming together to address gender-based violence and a key aspect of that is of course men who are often perpetrators of GBV. We need to have education campaigns happening actively over long periods of time, as well as spaces for men to discuss issues around gender-based violence,” she said.
Guerra said men needed to be involved in the campaign and that boys needed to be educated on violent behaviour from an early age.
“What’s important is for men to get involved, to start understanding what gender-based violence is as well as us on the ground from school-level to teach young boys and young girls what are good or bad behaviours, what are healthy relationships.”
Guerra suggested the campaign needed to go beyond the message of unity. She said it also needed to entail a response to substance abuse and inequality.
“We do need to address our substance abuse issues that we have in South Africa. We know that substance abuse leads to further violence and leads to gender-based violence and that was evidence during the Covid-19 lockdown when alcohol was prohibited,” she said.
Cele, for his part, conceded the reality was that women continued to be victims of violent crime. He vowed to intensify operations to combat crime during the holiday season.