MEDIA STATEMENT: “Women’s Lives Matter, End GBV NOW!”

DATE: 8 December 2022

The  Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) joins other feminists and human rights activists to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). This year’s theme Women’s Lives Matter: End GBV NOW! Now is a reminder for everyone to come together to end violence against women and girls and push for gender equality as well as an environment where women and girls feel safe. 

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) affects one in every three women globally (World Bank, 2019). In recent years, Southern Africa has recorded high incidence of Gender-Based Violence and reports suggest that GBV intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the trajectory continues unabated.  Every day we are inundated with reports of various forms of violence against women and girls. In Southern Africa, 40% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Patriarchy and harmful Religious and Cultural practices on the backdrop of poverty and hunger remain the main GBV drivers across the region.

Roughly 66 000 women are violently killed around the world each year accounting for 20% of intentional murders. Southern Africa is ranked one of the five regions with the highest rates of femicide. A recent national study on femicide in South Africa estimated that a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six hours. The South African Female Homicide Rate is six times higher than the global average.

A 2019 study in Zimbabwe found that of the 42 cases of femicide involving women above 50 years of age, the majority of the murders were preluded by accusations of witchcraft by male relatives. 

The incidence of child marriages has risen drastically across the region. The rate of child sexual exploitation and abuse such as early and forced marriages, child prostitution and trafficking are on the rise. 

A recent study by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)  shows that nearly half of women in developing countries are denied the right to make choices over health care, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex. In essence hundreds of millions of women and girls do not own their bodies, a fact that should outrage us all.

A GBV free world is possible, as the Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly we say: 

  • No to any form of violence and exploitation against women and children
  • No to patriarchy and harmful religious and cultural practices that put women and girls at risk of abuse
  • Governments should walk the talk and institute measures across the region for zero tolerance for GBV 
  • Stiffer penalties for human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children
  • Our children our future – end child, early and forced marriages NOW
  • GBV should be declared a global pandemic

For media enquiries, please contact:

Esley Philander: media@tcoe.org.za or +27 61 643 4249

ISSUED BY THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN RURAL WOMEN’S ASSEMBLY

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