by Ashleigh Harrison

Stop violence now

All South Africans must act to end violence against women and girls

Recent violent crimes have put the country at a disadvantage
Stop violence against women and children

A grassroots campaign to create safe spaces for girls and women, and everyone, in South Africa, is deeply saddened by the horrific rape and senseless murder of Anene Booysen.

To honor the memory of 17-year old Anene and show our sincere condolences to her family and friends, Rock Girl will partner with them to design and install a Safe Space bench in Bredasdorp. “This bench, like the other Rock Girl Safe Space benches, aims to encourage all South Africans to speak out to ensure this type of violent attack does not happen ever again. 

It sends a message to the world, that victims of sexual violence, must never be forgotten”, said India Baird, founder of Rock Girl. “While the benches are symbolic, women and girls’ right to be safe from such attacks and sexual assault while at school, work, on the streets, or even in their own homes is real and should never be denied.”

Rock Girl invites ministers, parliamentarians, business leaders, and ordinary citizens to join them for conversations on the Safe Spaces benches located around the city. Benches can be found in Company Gardens, on St. Georges Mall, at the train station, and on Lions Head and Table Mountain, and at other locations around the city. 

These conversations will continue and be recorded by Rock Girl in the coming weeks and months to ensure that the public outrage and demand for an end to sexual violence does not wane. We encourage every South African to continue this discussion in their own homes, workplaces, schools, and with their families and friends, to send a very clear message to everyone from the State President to their husbands, brothers, and sons that rape and sexual assault should never be tolerated.  Enough is enough. 

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape and sexual assault in the world, yet we have not dedicated the necessary resources to develop a national plan of action against this terrible epidemic. In June 2000, in response to the horrific rape and murder of 14-year old Valencia Farmer, the first Thuthuzela Rape Care Centre (TCC) in Manenberg opened its doors and there are now 54 TCCs open today to care for rape survivors and investigate and prosecute their cases.

Thousands of women have been served by these centres, and by organisations like Rape Crisis and Saartijie Baartman Centre. Yet thirteen years later, these groups still struggle to find the resources to continue their work.  The budget vote speech should reflect the urgent need for increased funding for these institutions, in both government and civil society.

Rock Girl joins other women’s organisations, members of civil society, and communities in the call to all the relevant government ministries to also create a urgent and much needed Special Fund to End Violence Against Women. 

Government should do more to provide the resources needed to respond quickly and effectively to government bodies who treat and care for rape victims and investigate and prosecute sexual offence cases, including the police, prosecutors, social workers, health care providers, educators, and community members. 

Private businesses and individuals should be encouraged to lend their financial support and to continue the support for the Safe Spaces campaign. “To eradicate violence against women and girls in South Africa, to build a beautiful country that we can all be proud of, all South Africans must broaden the corridors of safety to help transform our society,” said India Baird.

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