Reeva Steenkamp, Josina Machel, DJ Donald Duck Sebolai, former ANC Youth League Johannesburg leader Patrick Wisani – all recent high-profile cases involving violence against women.
Today marks the first day of 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children, an international campaign aimed at raising awareness around the shocking number of victims of abuse.
President Jacob Zuma officially launched the campaign today at Lepelle-Nkumpi Local Municipality in Limpopo.
According to Dr Lerato Dikobe-Kalane of the Psychiatry Management Group, one out of every six women is regularly assaulted by her partner, with men abusing the children living with the women 46% of the time.
This statistic puts the plight of women and children at a shocking all-time high, and many organisations are calling for greater awareness around this relevant concern.
“Women are still unaware of their rights and others are afraid of more violence from the perpetrator if they attempt legal action,” Dikobe-Kalane said.
The Domestic Violence Act was introduced in 1998 in order to protect victims of abuse yet not a lot of women fully understand it according to Dikobe-Kalane.
High profile cases have helped to make the issue around domestic violence more topical, yet in many South African communities domestic violence is seen as something that should not be discussed.
According to the Soul City Institute for Social Justice, witnessing violence makes girls 1.89 times more likely to experience violence in their lifetime and boys who grow up witnessing violence increases the likelihood of them becoming perpetrators in adulthood.
“Children who grow up in families where there is violence may suffer a range of behavioural and emotional disturbances. These can be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life,” Dikobe-Kalane said.
Help is available for anyone who suffers at the hands of an abuser and victims can safely approach organisations such as People Against Woman Abuse, Hlayisani White Door Centre, Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Vukunzenzele and Mercy House.
On August 18 the Soul City Institute for Social Justice held a briefing on violence against women and on whether or not it can be stopped.
Speakers included Savera Kalideen, senior manager for advocacy, Lebo Ramafoko, Chief Executive Officer at Soul City Institute and Tshepiso Maleswena of the #IAmOneInThree campaign.
Maleswena criticised the lack of education within the schooling system around what sexual and physical abuse is, and how this has compounded the effects of abuse which children grow into as they reach adulthood.
The international campaign ends on December 10.