Race to stop violence against women

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

On Saturday April 23, the Rock Girl grassroots movement held a 30 kilometre Brave Run from Harare police station to Cape Town in a quest to promote a culture of non-violence and speak out, in particular, against violence on women and children.

The event was prompted by the tragic deaths of two teenage girls, Sinoxolo Mafevuka in Khayelitsha and Franziska Blochliger in Tokai who were brutally raped and killed.

A group of runners committed to creating a culture of non-violence ran through the streets of Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg and Rylands before reaching the Rock Girl benches on Heritage Square in Cape Town city centre.

The runners stopped at each police station and informed people about the aim of the Brave Run and encouraged residents to join them.

Event organiser, India Baird said the race was an important one for the girls they work with because the Rock Girl movement had been inspired by a group of Grade 5 girls who were not able to participate in after-school activities due to violence and abuse from older boys.

“The race demonstrates the girls’ ongoing commitment to making their own communities and South Africa a safe environment for everyone,” she said.

She added that the race aimed to send a strong message of support to women and children along the way that no matter where they lived or what group they belonged to, women and girls needed to be a united force in the fight against gender-based violence.

She said the race was also aimed at urging boys and men to stand up and be role models for future generations.

Ms Baird said Rock Girls went on a road trip in June last year to the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Kalahari to promote the concept of non-violence and safe spaces for women and girls.

On each “Brave Road Trip”, she said, 16 teenage girls were trained as photographers and radio reporters and journalists, tasked with documenting the lives of women and girls and looking for solutions to the common challenges they face.

“Rock Girl is planning additional road trips, both in South Africa and into sub-Saharan Africa to allow more young girls and women to explore their own country,” she said.

Elite runner Linda Doke said Cape Town is the host to some of the most beautiful running races in the world, such as the Two Oceans and Cape Town Marathons, as well as the extraordinary trail runs such as the one onTable Mountain, but it has never hosted a race such as this before.

“We have some of the most beautiful places to run, but we also have the highest incidence of violence in the world against women and children.

“For one day, let us come together to make the streets of Cape Town safer for everyone and everywhere across the province,” said Ms Doke.

Siwe Coka, a member of the Justice for Sinoxolo Mafevuka movement, said the race plays a pivotal role in denouncing gender-based violence and it also indicates that they are not alone in the fight against crime and abuse of women and children.

Ms Coka added that the race highlighted that there was still more that needed to be done to promote the culture of non-violence in communities.

“This race urges people to practise humanity, and hopes to revive their conscience and promote love and peace in our society,” she concluded.

Thembinkosi Dyan said he participated in the race because he wanted to show people that there were still men out there who respect and treat women and children with the dignity they deserve.

“Young men of Khayelitsha and its surroundings need to change the negative perceptions they have about women. We as men, we tend to treat children and women as if they are ornaments and (think) we can do whatever we want with them, but that is a fallacy because women are not ornaments, but human beings who have feelings and emotions.

“I appeal to the men and boys to change their wayward ways and create a better society for everyone,” he said.