Home Opinion & Features We need to take a collective stand against a scourge

We need to take a collective stand against a scourge

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Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”, South Africa’s theme for this year is “Count me in”.

EVERY year, for 16 days overlapping November and December, we observe days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV).

Every year without fail, statements are released advocating the protection of women and children, media houses reserve lots of airtime and space for stories aimed at dismantling oppressive systems, as well as articles aimed at empowering women, who find themselves victims of abusive partners.

Starting on November 25, which is observed globally as the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, victims of violence are given a platform to speak out, with those in power promising to do something.

But those promises are largely empty. At the end of these 16 days, we all move on to other things, until headlines announce the brutal murder or rape of yet another woman or child, at the hands of her partner or a neighbour, a relative or a complete stranger, who felt entitled to violate their bodies.

Social media uproar usually follows, with government ministers releasing statements condemning the abhorrent incidents in the strongest possible terms. And that’s all – plenty of talk, but very little action.

But it should concern us that while there was a decrease in the number of women killed over the 2018/19 period, putting the number at 2771, child murders spiked.

More than 33125 women were victims of rape during the 2018/19 financial year, while 6852 girls and 543 boys, between the ages of 10 and 19, were raped.

While the UN’s theme for yesterday’s observance day was “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”, South Africa’s theme for this year is “Count me in”.

Two bold themes which require all of us to take a stand not only against rape culture, but against all forms of abuse against women and children.

Often as friends, family members, neighbours and colleagues we know the abusers.

Some walk the corridors of corporate South Africa in power suits, preying on women in their workplaces because they know they can get away with it.

Simply because they know no one will speak out in these tough economic conditions, where people would rather hold on to their jobs than lose a chance to put bread on the table.

It is time we counted ourselves in. We need to take a stand.