16 Days Campaign: Violence against women and children is not a culture, it’s a crisis

Patricia Mokgohlwa MPL

Spokesperson on Women

Note: Below is an extract from a speech delivered by Patricia Mokgohlwa MPL, DA Gauteng spokesperson on Women, at an Imbizo in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.

South Africa has unprecedented levels of violence against women. The prevalence of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and abuse against our children poses a major challenge towards the advancement of the rights enshrined in the Constitution. It is endemic in our communities.

Figures show that South Africa has some of the highest levels of rape in the world with reports of it being the “rape capital”.

  • It is estimated that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa.
  • It is estimated that there are 500 000 rapes, hundreds of murders and countless beatings each year in South Africa.
  • A woman is killed by her partner every 8 hours.
  • Almost half of all South African women will be raped during their lifetime.
  • More than 30 per cent of girls have been raped by the time they are 18.
  • 1 in 5 reported rapes will end up in court. Of these cases, only 4% will result in conviction.
  • For every 25 men accused of raping a child or adult woman, 24 will walk free
  • While only 66,196 incidents were reported to police in 2012 and their investigations only led to 4,500 convictions.
  • Prevalence of domestic violence against women was found to be 38% of which 1 in 4, was perpetrated by the husband.

We live in a country were children are abandoned in dustbins or left at the hospital, we live is a society where children, our future are killed ruthlessly and brutally, we live in communities where children must fend for themselves.

Violence against women and children is not a culture, it is a crisis.

The DA believes that this crisis affects every person every day, and that it is every person’s responsibility to get involved to prevent violence against women and children.

That is why our campaign theme is wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami, my neighbour’s concern affects me too, 365 days a year.

This community should come out in numbers, just as you did to say this is enough and we will not let these crimes happen under our watch. Wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami.

We must forge a united approach in addressing violence against women and children, not only as women but through working together with society as a whole. Wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami.

Gender based violence and child abuse is not a private affair or the victim’s problem alone, it is our problem as women, men, communities, political parties and the province in general. Wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami.

We each have a role to play. The government, business, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and the media are all participating in the drive to increase awareness of the negative impact of violence and abuse on women and children. Wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami.

This is a desperate call for sustainable societal intervention geared towards addressing the scourge of violence which permeates all sectors of our society.

We need interventions that are both pro-active and solution driven which is why we are here today.

This will help us to not only drive, but to sustain our efforts and momentum in the fight against gender based violence and the abuse of our children.

The province needs family justice support for victims and their families, including in preparing for cases, strengthening the management and use of an updated sexual offences register.

We need effective and efficient victim support centres.

We need to create an environment in which women feel safe, comfortable and respected when they report their case. As such, we need greater professionalism from the police in dealing with such sensitive matters. This will also encourage victims to report their cases to the police.

We need to stand up for our children, especially the poor and needy. If our children cannot trust us, who will they turn to?

A society based on the values of democracy and freedom is often judged by its respect for the rule of law and commitment to upholding the dignity and rights of its citizens.  However, at the most basic level a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members. We need to strive for a culture that is intolerant of rape and abuse where it is unacceptable to violate the rights of others. This can only happen if each and every one of us in this hall realises the role we can all play, collectively and individually.

Today, we stand here with a community in mourning to say let us imagine a South Africa that goes beyond 16 days of activism but 365 days of no rape and no child abuse, with your help, this is possible! It starts here, it starts with you, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Wathinta umakhelwani uthinta nami!