Six hundred people took to the streets of Kraaifontein on Thursday in support of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which was officially launched on Friday November 25.
The international campaign, which runs until Saturday December 10, raises awareness of the harm that violence against women and children does to society.
The white ribbon you see on our masthead this week, and which we will run for the duration of the campaign, is a symbol of Northern News’ support for this cause.
Statistics tell a shocking story about the violence women and children still endure.
According to the Medical Research Council, 50 percent of children will be abused before they turn 18 years of age.
A UCT study maintains that 50 percent of men who had raped a girl younger than 15 said they “did it to have fun”.
Last week, the horrific facts emerged of the 13-year old girl who was repeatedly gang raped by 10 men in Nyanga, forcibly moved from one shack to another and then another.
Her family said she was held for three nights before being released on November 14, and it was reported that she did not receive counselling for more than a week after her release.
The teenager is now in a place of safety.
Violence against children cost South Africa more than R238 billion in 2015, according to Save the Children South Africa.
A recent study commissioned by the children’s rights organisation found the long-term effects of emotional, physical and sexual abuse has a direct impact on the country’s economy.
Professor Cathy Ward, head of UCT’s Department of Psychology, said: “These findings highlight how preventing violence against children is a matter of urgency and is also an effective investment that will yield many social and economic returns for South Africa.”
The researchers say the figures were conservative and based on available data. They did not account for unreported cases of abuse.
At the march last Thursday in Kraaifontein, organised by the police, the crowd walked from the Kraaifontein police station, to the Central Park Sports Ground in Scottsdene.
Kraaifontein police station commander Brigadier Gerda van Niekerk said there had been a “positive response” to the march.
She told the crowd: “This time of the year… many women reach out to us, and we assist so many victims of crime and child abuse.”
Those who turned out in support included the Women’s Network; police officers; residents from Belmont Park, Scottsdene and Wallacedene; as well Harvester Primary School drilling squad pupils, who were led by a drum majorette.
The school’s coach Dawood Davids said he wanted to educate pupils about abuse against women and children.
“It is important for them to be aware of the things that happen in their communities, and they need to start practising to be good citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development has announced that it has prioritised the development and protection of the province’s 1.7 million children and 2.1 million women beyond just the 16 days, by budgeting R654 million for the children and families programme and the victim empowerment sub-programme.