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March highlights gender violence

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The Rise Abafazi Movement, together with the community of Galeshewe, braced the cold weather during the commemoration of National Women’s Day yesterday and marched to the police station to highlight the scourge of women and child abuse.

NO VIOLENCE: A group of about 200 women yesterday marched from the traffic circle to the Witdam Police Station in Galeshewe to hand over a memorandum highlighting gender-based violence.

GENDER-based violence came under the spotlight when about 200 women marched to the Witdam Police Station in Galeshewe yesterday, calling for faster reaction from law enforcement agencies with regards to reported cases of women abuse.

The Rise Abafazi Movement, together with the community of Galeshewe, braced the cold weather during the commemoration of National Women’s Day yesterday and marched to the police station to highlight the scourge of women and child abuse.

The founder of the movement, Mpho Assegaai, said that cases involving violence against women and children are not prioritised.

“Women and children continue to be abused, killed, marginalised and treated as third-class citizens and subjected to sub-standard services. We want to display our dissatisfaction with the manner in which cases of gender-based violence are being handled,” said Assegaai.

She also accused the police of dragging their feet in solving cases of gender-based violence.

“Since before and after the disappearance of Rehana Moshoeshoe in 2011, women and children in this Province have had no peace. Keitumetse Magwadibane went missing in 2016 and has not yet been found. Letty Wapad was raped and stabbed, with her intestines removed, and a rock shoved into her private parts in 2010. A 68-year-old grandmother was raped in her own home in June 2017. The grandmother now has to live with a prolapsed womb. These cases are only some of the ones that the community knows about since they are reported.

“These are horrific matters and stringent action needs to be taken to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to book.”

Assegaai said that law enforcement agencies need to improve their sexual offences services.

“The sexual offender list, where convicted rapists are registered, needs to be made public. The quality of investigations into gender-based violence needs to be prioritised. The reaction time of the police to a crime scene needs to be assessed. There is also an urgent need for victim-friendly facilities for reporting cases of rape.

“The police should also not allow the victims to withdraw cases until the investigation is concluded. One finds in many cases that the victims are being forced or threatened to withdraw cases against perpetrators.

“We also need to educate our young children about such incidents as one finds that it is not the stranger on the street that will rape and abuse them, but often those closest or known to them.

“We need to stand together as law enforcement and communities to root out this evil against the vulnerable in the society.”

The deputy founder of the movement, Kehilwe Molelekwe, said that the march will become an annual event and that they are hoping to include other parts of the Province in the future.

“We want to raise awareness in every corner of the Northern Cape. It is not only women in Kimberley who are the target of such crimes. We will spread awareness and educate all women on their rights,” said Molelekwe.

“The men in our communities can play a supporting role in this fight as we also need them to speak out against such matters instead of standing and watching women being abused. Men need to understand that all women are their sisters, mothers and children.”

Molelekwe said that they will march to the Northern Cape High Court next week during the appearance of Siyanda Gxwati, who is accused of stabbing Refilwe Letebele at her parental home in Barkly West on January 12.