Violence is everywhere. More often than not it is silent, invisible and intimate. And many voices have been silenced forever because of violence, abuse and murder. Now is the time to speak out. We dare not remain silent; we must speak for those who have lost their lives and those still living in fear. Let us stand together to stop the cycle of violence in South Africa and shatter the silence that shatters lives.
Please sign the pledge
Please sign the online pledge to add your voice to the call for a non-violent South Africa by saying “Count me in: I deserve a life free from violence and fear”.
Crime statistics for April 1, 2016 to March 31 this year showed a 1.8% decrease in serious crimes nationally but violent crimes like murder, sexual assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances remain on the increase. The murder rate now stands at the highest it’s been in 10 years with 52 murders, along with 109 rapes per day.
In the Western Cape alone 66 child murders (and counting) were recorded by end October this year already. The Optimus Study (2016) found that one in three children had experienced some form of sexual abuse at some point in their lives and 36.8% of boys and 33.9% of girls reported some form of sexual abuse. The Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula specified in Parliament that child murder in South Africa increased by 14.5% year-on-year with 969 cases.
Childhood is a critical developmental period where children are extremely vulnerable to harmful influences around them. There is a strong inter-generational effect that perpetuates the cycle of violence from parent to child (DSD & Unicef, 2014). A damaged child all too often becomes the adult perpetrator. Research shows that the risk of becoming violent is strongly linked to exposure to violence in the home and community, inconsistent care giving, poor role models, high levels of inequality, and substance abuse. It is in this light that we should view and welcome the banning of corporal punishment.
On average, one in five South African women older than 18 has experienced physical violence. Every eight hours (on average), a woman dies at the hands of an intimate partner in South Africa. More women are killed by their current or former intimate male partner in South Africa than in any other country in the world (Medical Research Council and Centre for Public Mental Health, 2017). Men also suffer violence and abuse. Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult; the same with violence in same-sex partner relationships. There is however broad consensus that it is a reality which can not be ignored.
Human trafficking is another sad reality. Over the last few years reports of trafficking have grown. In June this year 220 young people were rescued from trafficking in Wonder Park. Police have warned the public about human trafficking syndicates and statistics reveal that South Africa could have as many as 100 000 young girls working in underground sex dens as sex slaves.
In the face of all this: What are we to do apart from being vigilant, keeping ourselves, our children and our families safe as best we could?
There is a growing recognition that interpersonal violence is preventable, in other words: efforts to prevent violence should precede and prevent the occurance of violent acts (Children’s Institute, 2014). Prevention is therefore everybody’s business. It is a collective nationwide effort, and not something we should leave primarily to the police, the judiciary, social workers or other law-enforcement professions and agencies. As a designated child protection organisation It however remains our ethical duty to respond to reports of violence and abuse – and to respond rapidly and act accordingly to prevent further abuse. We must raise awareness, implement prevention programs and protection interventions but also strengthen support and protective networks for children and families.
Prevention requires leadership and collaboration. Violence is complex. Government, civil society, caregivers, communities, ordinary citizens need to stand together – and while it seems that there is no political will to address violent crimes we as ordinary citizens need to collaborate and act. The time for operating in silos is long gone. We need to stop being territorial. We dare not let victims fall through the gaps in our services.
Perhaps one of the most powerful metaphors or illustration of how ordinary people can positively impact on and change their communities through simple acts is the TV advertisement of “The Forst man of India” by Prudential. If each and everyone of us can start planting “trees of kindness, trees of awareness” to stop the river of violence eating our country, if every day we can “do the right thing right”, imagine what we can achieve over time. You can watch the video here:
ACTION FOR CHANGE
During the 16 Days of Activism individual ACVV branches and service units will concentrate efforts on raising awareness on domestic violence and abuse in the four provinces the ACVV operates in. Our volunteers and staff, together with service users, community members and service providers will facilitate a variety of activities, e.g. use inter-active posters, celebration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2017, marches, visits to schools, etc. to raise awareness and to speak out against violence and abuse. This year we’re going with the slogan : COUNT ME IN: I DESERVE A LIFE FREE FROM VIOLENCE AND FEAR!
Please also sign the online pledge to add your voice to the call for a South Africa free from violence and fear.