”The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an escalation in gender-based violence against women and girls in Southern Africa.
It has also magnified existing structural problems such as poverty, inequality, crime, high unemployment and systematic criminal justice failures.
The state must ensure that women and girls continue to have access to police protection and justice as well as to shelters and other support services to escape the blight of gender-based violence.”
Those Amnesty International, Deprose Muchena, whose the Director words were constant subliminal messages of all the speakers and guests who attended June Major and Celesthea Pierang ongoing GBV awareness roadshow in Simola Hotel on Sunday the 10th of October.
The two rape survivors started their long walk from Western Cape capital city (Cape Town) from the 30th of September, heading to Eastern Cape capital city (Makhanda)
According to Major and Pierang, the Cape Town to Makhanda rape survivors awareness walk is aimed at educating people about sexual abuse, giving victims a voice and finding peace and healing on the journey.
Throughout the 40 days roadshow, the duo is hoping (in connection with as many rape survivors, sexual abuse awareness organizations) to teach society about the possible rise of sexual offences that are likely to occur more especially now that the country is on lockdown alert level one.
While addressing the attendees at Simola Hotel, (in Knysna) June said every three hours a woman is murdered in South Africa. In other words, based on statistics, 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of abuse.
”Now is the time that society stands together and categorically rebuke sexual abuse, femicide and all other forms of gender-based abuse. We know very well that will not be easy because some people don’t know the feeling or have not walked in the shoes of rape survivors like myself.
June’s are in line with the recent disturbing revelation by Police Minister General Beki Cele. According to Cele, the 2021 first quarter Quarter one crime statistics shows that crimes like femicide and sexual offences have increased by 6% as compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.
It is exactly for that reason that June is calling on all women to unite and make their voices heard.
”As women, we all know the pain of being abused. I believe it is about time that we take a lead and demand our constitutional human rights to safety and protection.
Women deserve a safe environment they deserve to be heard and be protected South African Government and justice system is failing us, abuse is not reported because women are afraid of being victim-blaming and character assassination.” said Major
Emboldened by the fact that they know that there are enough laws to back up their demands, all guests and attendees agreed to continue advocating for a dignified lifestyle because article 2 of the Human Rights Act protects your right to life.
Based on this they believe that their struggle victory is guaranteed because the ‘government can try to end your life. It also means the Government should take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect you and, in some circumstances, by taking steps to protect you if your life is at risk.’
By Siphokazi Mnyobe