A collective effort is needed from society as a whole if the rampant violence against women and children in the Eastern Cape is to be curbed, where 80 women and children a day are victims of crime.
With 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children starting tomorrow (25 November 2019), we need to acknowledge that it will take more than speeches from politicians and community leaders to fix the broken and dysfunctional society which we live in.
Patriarchy and toxic masculinity alone cannot be blamed for the situation. They are symptomatic of the collapse of our institutions and moral values in our society.
The rate of violent crime against women and children in the Eastern Cape continues to escalate, up from 28 642 reported crimes against women and children in 2017/18 to 29 343 reported crimes in 2018/19.
There were 3070 sexual offences reported in relation to children under the age of 17 years in the Eastern Cape in 2018/19; 2695 for rape, and 375 for sexual assault.
[SEE: IQP 16 qq 384]
This extremely high figure speaks of a sick society caught in moral decline.
Even more horrifying is that the rape and sexual assault of children can be broken up as follows. Children under the age of six made up a staggering 6.4% of all sexual offences reported, children between 7 and 13 constituted 16% of all sexual offences, and children between 14 and 20 made up a staggering 25.5% of all sexual assaults in the province.
We need to restore the public’s trust in criminal justice system. This includes ensuring that all stations are equipped with rape kits and victim friendly rooms. Police officers need to be trained to provide women and children who have been abused with effective and empathetic service and support.
The truth is that the violence cannot be solved through policing alone. There needs to be a massive cultural shift in South Africa. Interventions need to take place from early childhood to prevent exposure to, and normalisation of, violent behaviour.
Educational programmes are desperately needed at schools that speaks to the rights of individuals, the inherent and irreplaceable value that each person has and instils a culture of respect for one another. These programmes should particularly be aimed at males so that the culture of objectifying women is dealt with.
We need to work together to rebuild a society in which women and children are safe to walk and play in the streets.