Cape Town – 16 November 2020 – Already recognised as having one of the highest rates of rape and domestic violence in the world, according to the South Africa 2020 Crime & Safety Report, the frequency at which women in South Africa are murdered by their partners is also five times higher than the global average, according to the World Health Organization.
In the first week of national lockdown (between 26 March and 2 April), more than 87,000 gender-based violence cases were reported. This, due largely to the fact that perpetrators and survivors were forced to stay in the same physical confines as the out-of-home movement was restricted, leading to increased incidents and intensity of domestic violence and abuse.
Seven months on and there is no evidence that the situation is improving.
“No less than 70 women and children have been murdered over the last few months in South Africa, not forgetting all the women and children who came before them. And this is only set to rise with the lifting of alcohol restrictions this week”, says Tina Thiart, founder member of 1000 Women Trust, an NGO that creates awareness, organises safe spaces for women and mobilises resources to amplify the voices of women and girls in South Africa.
“Our girls have more chance of being raped than learning to read. Sickeningly, from babies and children to young girls and elderly women, all women are targets for rape, abuse and murder, and something needs to be done”.
In an effort to spread this message, NGO 1000 Women Trust today launches a major national movement campaign urging parents to do the brave thing by making a pledge to #MakeTime to speak to our sons to teach them about consent, boundaries and respect for women – and in this simple act and join the cause of fighting against the ongoing, horrific levels of gender-based violence.
The campaign centres on a children’s doll – Krissy Doll – that appears to have been brutally assaulted, exhibiting all the hallmarks of domestic violence. In a digital film, two young girls are playing with the doll, putting make-up on the doll’s face to cover up cuts and bruises.
“Our Krissy Doll is a strong denotation of how women cover up or hide the abuse or violence that is inflicted upon them. By showing a potential future in which little girls accept battered and bruised dolls as if this were the norm, we are hoping to shock South Africans into having critical conversations with their sons”, says Thiart.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has said, “Gender-based violence thrives in a climate of silence. With our silence, by looking the other way because we believe it is a personal or family matter, we become complicit in this most insidious of crimes.”
“All we’re asking is for South Africans to #MakeTime to speak to their sons. Words are powerful and children’s behaviour and attitudes are learnt, shaped and moulded by those who care for them. If every South African took just half an hour a month to talk to their sons, or boys in their care, about the right way to think and act, consent, boundaries and respect for women, we would soon see less violence, abuse and rape,” says Thiart.
But it is not only sons. Women also need to rethink how they view themselves. A recent survey indicated that when asked if it is acceptable for a man to hit a woman, 3.3% of men and 2.3% of women in South Africa said that it is. Despite the percentage is small, it will never be possible to completely eliminate violence against women while there are still women who believe that it is acceptable to be hit by a man, at the same time not understanding their constitutional rights or what is regarded as socially unacceptable behaviour.
“So, while making time to talk to our sons, we also need to encourage our daughters and help them understand that abuse is not okay. Abuse against them, or against anyone they care about should not be covered up. We can’t remain silent, we need to speak up if we want to change,” says Thiart.
“Through this campaign, we hope that each and every South African will take up the responsibility to have these types of conversations with our children from an early age so that it becomes a social norm and prevents these crimes from following our daughters into the future”.
To find out more, pledge your support to make time to talk to your son, visit maketime.org.za and join the conversation at #MakeTime. Free-for-all digital resources on how to speak to our children are available for download on maketime.org.za offering advice and tips on how best teach our sons the right way.