“Silence hides violence,” chanted protesters against sexual violence who picketed along Klipfontein Road, last Friday, in support of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
The annual campaign, which started Saturday November 25 and will run until Sunday December 10, raises awareness about the abuse of women and children.
According to the latest SAPS crime statistics, 10 516 rape cases were reported countrywide from the beginning of July to the end of September this year – a 0.7% drop from the 10 590 cases reported for the same period last year.
Passing motorists hooted their support for the 50-odd protesters as they waved their placards and chanted “Enough is enough,” and “Stop abusing our women and children.”
Caroline Peters, founder of the Callas Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports victims of abuse, was part of the group of protesters.
She said communities that kept quiet about abuse only made the problem worse, and more education was needed to help women leave abusive relationships safely.
Many women wanted to leave abusive partners but were scared and financially dependent on them.
Women needed support and children needed to grow up in safe, loving homes to create healthier communities, she said.
“Our organisation does this week 365 days a year. Our figures have increased. It is horrific that we still see this. People are still keeping quiet. Two of our clients committed suicide this year. Three percent of matters brought to court are successfully prosecuted. Women give up their court cases. The rate is high. I appeal to the men out there to come along and support us. It is not only a women’s issue; it is the whole of the community’s issue.”
Geraldine Alcock, of Mitchell’s Plain, said women needed women to support them as no one knew what the next person was going through and wouldn’t understand unless they had gone through it themselves.
“Violence against women needs to stop. We are united against gender-based violence. Men need to respect women, and women must respect men. Women take care of everything – the kids, the household, and they go to work.”
Athlone ward councillor Rashid Adams urged the public to support the campaign.
“We need to not only arrest the perpetrators but address the issues also. Children are still being molested daily and ill-treated. Women are raped daily. Domestic violence is still a reality… We are going through so much; we don’t need this as well.”
Ursula Morris, of Bridgetown, said: “We need education at grassroots levels. We need to seek the root of the issue. That’s where the perpetrators fester. We need more community-based workshops where we speak to both males and females. Women bear most of the brunt of gender-based violence. We need to educate people in a language that they understand.”
Cecilia Alcock, a member of the Kewtown Women’s Circe community organisation, said men needed to see women unite against abuse.
“We are women, and we understand what our women are going through. Real men don’t abuse – cowards do. A real man will never abuse a woman. More men need to stand up and unite then other men will see that their own gender is standing up against abuse, and they will question their behaviour.”