SOUTH AFRICA: 57,000 South Africans Call on President Zuma to Pledge R10 Billion to End Violence Against Women in SA Budget

Monday, February 25, 2013
Southern Africa
Southern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

In a protest action organised by and Sonke Gender Justice Network, gender equality activists from across Cape Town will gather outside the Houses of Parliament to call on the South African Government to commit to one billion rand a year to fund effective strategies to prevent violence against women, including a grassroots public education campaign to end the cycle of violence against women.

Over 130 activists from gender equality organisations will gather outside the Parliamentary buildings to hang up women's clothing which carry the message saying President Zuma: Your Budget Can Stop Rape.

Emma Ruby-Sachs, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said: As many as 75,000 women have been raped in the weeks since Anene Booysen's horrific murder, yet President Zuma's response has so far been found wanting. The Budget speech is a chance to change this and end the rape crisis with a massive grassroots education campaign that addresses the crux of this crisis.

More than 57,000 people across South Africa have joined the Avaaz campaign and a broader national coalition of nearly 40 civil society organisations coordinated by Sonke, the Nelson Mandela Fund, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation urging President Zuma to intervene. In the past 24 hours, thousands of people have been emailing the Presidency urging the Government to prioritise this issue when the budget in unveiled on Wednesday - see here for more.

On Tuesday, activists delivered a letter and the petitions to Mr Themba Godi, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Cape Town and these will be shared with other Ministers in the coming days.

Cherith Sanger, an attorney at Sonke Gender Justice, said: "Until women and girls can walk the streets of our country without fear of violence, no matter what time of day or night, our country will not know peace."

The government's current plan to stop assaults, the Sexual Offences Act, is having little impact in the face of a culture of sexual violence and impunity. A third of men in South Africa have admitted to rape. In 2010, 154 new rapes happened every day - and those were just the ones that were reported to the police.

Massive public education campaigns have radically shifted social behaviour on all kinds of issues, from HIV prevention to domestic violence. Avaaz and Sonke are urging the government to implement a widespread and long term program, using personalities that have influence and overwhelming the airwaves and schools with messages that tackle the root causes.