Ikamva Labantu has questioned the latest crime statistics – released in September – which indicated that rape was on a decline, arguing that it strongly believes this number had decreased only because fewer people were reporting incidents of rape.
This emerged when the organisation held an awareness campaign on Friday November 25, at Nyanga terminus to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which runs until Saturday December 10.
Under the theme “Xa uhlukumeza yena, uhlukumeza nathi. Makhosikazi yimani ngxi ningagungqi nilwe uku hlukunyezwa” the organisation said it strived to encourage women and children, including men, to report abuse. It said it was a sad that children and women could no longer walk freely at night due to crime.
The organisation has vowed to pull out all the stops to urge men, in particular, to change their behaviour towards women and children.
Siyabulela Monakali, from Ikamva Labantu, said communities continued to wrestle with gender-based violence and that violence against women and children was rising in South Africa, despite efforts by government and advocacy groups to curb it.
He cited the recent rape of a 13-year-old Philippi girl as a “disturbing reminder” of the challenges faced by women and children in society. (Hunt for 13-year-old girl’s rapists Vukani November 24).
Mr Monakali said that while children and women remained vulnerable in relation to men, Ikamva Labantu could not shy away from the fact that men were also abused. Many of them, however, were too embarrassed to speak out. In addition to this, he said, a number of rape incidents and abuse were not reported because many people had lost faith in the police.
Mr Monakali added that in black communities it was taboo to speak openly about rape and that in many cases perpetrators of abuse were breadwinners, resulting in women being reluctant to speak out against them.
He said campaigns against the abuse of women and children would remain relevant-and neccesary-until there was not a single incident of abuse reported.
He therefore called on men to play the role of caregivers, family protectors and leaders in society in order to achieve this.
He also called for harsh punishment for abusers, conceding that rooting out abuse would not be easy and that it would require residents to work as a collective, and work hand-in-hand with the police.
“We are astonished that each and every year Nyanga tops (the list) as the murder capital, and yet the government seems to be folding their hands and doing nothing to fight crime.
“We have decided that for the first time, we will host our Take Back March on Friday December 9, in Nyanga.
“For the past three years we hosted the march in Gugulethu, but due to escalating incidents of rape and abuse in Nyanga, we have decided to have it here,” he said.
KTC resident Ntomboxolo Gampi said such events played a critical role in educating women about their rights and discouraging perpetrators of abuse and violence. She said women constantly live in fear and their rights were not respected.
Ms Gampi called on men to be good role models and said she hoped to see many men embracing such awareness campaigns.