The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) held a march at the Athlone Stadium last Wednesday when they called for the “unsilencing” of the abuse faced by women and children in South Africa.
Chairperson of the MJC Women’s Forum, Mualima Khadija Patel-Allie, said among other issues in Cape Town, the Cape Flats is at the heart of violent crime, drug abuse and gender-based violence.
“The choice of route was strongly influenced by these facts, as Klipfontein Road cuts through a large part of the Cape Flats and is surrounded by areas affected by crime, poverty and unemployment, all of which are primary contributors to the alarming increase of gender-based violence,” she said.
The march by the MJC comes while the country commemorates the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which runs from November 25 to December 10 every year.
Sheikh Fadhil Emandien, the head of department for social development at the MJC, said the march is a symbolic act to show that violence against women and children needs to stop.
“We are saying no to all type of abuse against our mothers, daughters, and sisters. We are standing here as a handful of people but our voices will resonate throughout the world. We need quality among women and children because in God’s eyes we are all equal,” he said.
Naseerah Tape, from Surrey Estate, said she came out to support the march as she feels the number of women and children being abused is on the increase.
“My message today is that more people must support these campaigns but I think we have spoken for everyone. Women need to stand up for themselves as individuals and voice their opinions and be strong,” she said.
Amien Harries, from Surrey Estate, said men must be taught that they cannot hurt women.
“I want to tell men that they must think of women as their own children or their parents who they would never hurt. Women must stand up and say no to abuse,” he said.
Other organisations present was the Office of the Public Protector, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, IHATA Shelter for abused women, Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Rape Crisis and Islamic Relief.
At a media briefing on Tuesday November 28 – a day before the march, institutions and organisations pledged their support for this initiative.
Among those who came to show their support, was Human Rights Commissioner, Reverend Chris Nissen, who said a sustainable solution to end violence against women, is to empower them and for them to have a strong support system.
“Mitchell’s Plain has the highest cases of domestic violence, but the lowest conviction rate, because cases are being withdrawn. Part of the reason for this, is because of economic abuse in the household. We need a sustainable programme to change the mindset. This must be an ongoing initiative by every mosque and every church, and tie in with other issues, such as the buying of stolen goods. Stolen goods also have blood on it,” Reverend Nissen said.
Advocate Hishaam Mohamed, provincial head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, said women contributed much to the freedom of South Africa, yet with their sacrifices made, many women cannot even enjoy freedom of movement in her own home.
“Gender violence does not discriminate. It can happen among any race or class. Many of the victims withdraw cases because of self-blame, economic reasons, or the fear of the unknown, among others. Statistics show that there has been an increase of three percent of gender violence cases. We don’t know if it is that more women are reporting it because of awareness, or whether it is an increase in the amount of women being abused,” Mr Mohamed said.