Our Commitment to Ending Gender-Based Violence
October 2023: A Month of Unseen Horrors
women murdered in South Africa in just three months*
“It is time that men and boys recognise the role they must play in gender equality
and join with the voices and actions of the women and girls who are trying to re-shape society in the interests of us all.”
In a world that seems to be ever-evolving, one thing remains shockingly consistent: the grim news of gender-based violence (GBV). October was no different, bearing witness to horrifying accounts of cruelty, pain, and suffering. We invite you to delve into the stories that emerged this October, unearthing the relentless struggle against GBV in South Africa.
A Life Sentence for a Lifetime of Trauma
The Cape Town Regional Court saw a gut-wrenching case unfold as a 42-year-old man from Dunoon was sentenced to life in prison. His crime? The rape of a young relative, a crime made even more heinous as it resulted in her contracting HIV. The story highlights not just the brutality of the act but also the long-lasting consequences that survivors of GBV endure. (Source: News24, 27th October)
A Healer’s Betrayal: Trainees’ Trauma
The northern KwaZulu-Natal village of KwaQwasha was shaken when a 33-year-old sangoma, a traditional healer, was arrested. His alleged crimes sent shockwaves through the community. The sangoma stood accused of both rape and assault against three teenage amathwasa (trainees). This case is a stark reminder that perpetrators come from all walks of life, even those whom society views as protectors. (Source: News24, 13th September)
The Eastern Cape’s Ongoing Battle
The Eastern Cape, like many parts of South Africa, is no stranger to the relentless battle against GBV. Unfortunately, October brought more cases of assault and cruelty to the forefront. These stories illuminate the broader issue at hand, emphasizing the urgency of our collective fight against GBV.
Facing the Unseen Horrors
These cases serve as a stark reminder that GBV continues to plague our society, affecting individuals from all walks of life. The perpetrators are among us, hidden behind masks of familiarity, trust, or authority. It’s a battle that rages on, and it’s a battle we must confront collectively.
In this blog post, we aim to shine a light on the unspoken stories and often overlooked aspects of GBV. Our mission is clear: to promote dialogue, inspire action, and, above all, create a future where GBV is nothing more than a haunting memory.
Gender-based violence (GBV) has reached pandemic proportions in South Africa.
The statistics are sickening. In March 2023, 118 women were raped and 11 women were murdered daily in South Africa.
Women continue to bear the brunt of violent attacks in South Africa. In the first three months of 2023, we witnessed distressing numbers:
These numbers don’t even begin to account for the countless unreported cases, making the true impact immeasurable. This is a crisis that affects us all and urgently demands our attention and action, and we have been silent.
In this critical time, we must come together and stand as one…
Faith Action to End Gender-Based Violence Collective is the embodiment of unity, where faith-based organisations, devoted leaders, passionate advocates, resilient survivors, and concerned citizens join forces.
Gender-based violence knows no boundaries; it affects every facet of our society. In our nation, faith-based organisations and leaders hold profound moral authority, and with this power comes immense responsibility.
Our faith-based institutions and leaders are uniquely positioned to address the scourge of GBV that plagues our society. It’s a responsibility we must all share, a duty we must not shirk. Faith Action beckons you to be part of our Interfaith n Campaign, an urgent call to arms. It implores each of us to rise together and put an end to gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa.
This is not just a campaign; it’s a heartfelt plea to make our world safer, more compassionate, and free from the shackles of violence.
Our campaign is built on shared ideals that permeate all faiths.
At the core of every faith tradition is the message of love, empathy, and care for all. It’s a shared foundation.
The understanding that we all emanate from one source and are all part of one human family, reliant on each other for community, support, and progress
We know that we are all equal in the eyes of our Creator, all deserving of fairness and equality.
Justice and mercy are the pillars of peace and are perfectly aligned with the principles of restorative justice and accountability, which aim to facilitate healing and reconciliation in our country.
In South Africa, we have a beautiful word that encapsulates all of the above: Ubuntu – I am me because of you – a way of being that emphasises our interconnectedness, generosity, belonging, and inclusivity.
A Faith-Rooted Commitment to Action
1. Vocal Advocacy
We pledge to be vocal without fear of division or offence, as we recognise that silence perpetuates violence.
2. Religious Text Engagement
This is a commitment to amplify religious texts that promote dignity, gender equality, and justice, as well as engage with interpretations that have been used to support patriarchy and violence.
3. Dismantling Toxic Masculinity
We are committed to creating and supporting efforts that nurture men and dismantle toxic masculinity, normalising healthy expressions of emotion and vulnerability.
4. Promotion of Care-Giving Environments
Special attention will be given to promoting care-giving environments in schools and family settings.
5. Prioritising Protection
The protection of vulnerable groups, including women, children, people with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ individuals, and men, will be prioritised. At the same time, we will raise awareness and stop the protection of perpetrators.
6. Accountability and Justice
Restorative justice must prevail. Accountability must be demanded. There will be no tolerance for perpetrators, especially within faith communities. Survivors and their needs will be at the centre of the justice process. They must be prioritised, they must not be asked to be patient or expected to forgive, and they must have a say in the remedy.
7. Confronting Prejudices
Intersectionalities must be acknowledged and understood. Ignoring poverty, racism, substance abuse, and mental health problems, which have contributed to GBV, will no longer be acceptable. There is no gender justice without race justice. There is no race justice without gender justice.
8. Healing Service
Efforts will be made to offer healing services, like trauma counselling, to those traumatised, dispossessed, and bereaved by GBV.
9. Empowering Voices
An enabling environment will be created to encourage people to speak out against toxic masculinity and GBV. Survivors, women, and marginalised communities must be given a platform to speak out for themselves, and men and boys must be actively involved in the solution.
The commitment to action includes collaboration with various stakeholders, including faith leaders, government, NGOs, the private sector, and other groups, to create a united front against GBV.
Read the full statement here
Join the Faith-Driven Movement
In a country characterised by complex and deeply rooted inequalities, where apartheid’s legacy continues to affect gender inequality and gender inequality continues to perpetuate GBV, South Africans of faith are standing up.
We are standing up to address the root causes of bias, toxic norms, stereotypes, and structural inequalities. We believe that truth, love, and God’s mercy can restore self-respect and dignity and offer hope and healing to both survivors and perpetrators of GBV.
We invite you to join this movement!
The Collective has developed a Statement of Commitment which was meticulously crafted by dedicated scholars and passionate activists within the faith sector. The Statement is now going through validation – please join us if you would like to have a look at the first draft and bring your suggestions to help shape the final Statement.
Join Us in the Struggle…
The struggle against GBV is ongoing, but it’s one we are committed to winning. As we dive into these harrowing stories, we encourage you to join us on this journey of change. Our collective efforts will be the catalyst for transformation. Together, we can put an end to the horror, create safe spaces for survivors, and ensure that GBV has no place in our future.
Stand with us, be part of the change.
The Statement will be launched at an event on 16 November and we will then run a Signature Campaign so we hope you will sign the Statement.
Be a part of a decisive course of action, no more head in the clouds, but feet on the ground. It’s not enough to hope for change; we must act together, whether in faith institutions or society at large, to end GBV and femicide in South Africa.
Together, we can establish Ubuntu in our Rainbow Nation and transform it into a culture of peace.
Let’s make a difference; it starts with me and you.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence and need support, please reach out to:
- Gender-Based Violence Command Centre: 0800 428 428
- STOP Gender Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#