Dear friends across South Africa,
Anene Booysen’s horrendous murder has shocked the nation, but now we need action. Let’s demand a historic push from Zuma to uproot the deep causes of rape in South Africa. The State of the Nation address and budget are chances for Zuma to act — let’s get the largest petition the country has ever seen for action on rape. Sign now:
Rape has long been a crisis in South Africa, earning us notoriety as the ‘rape capital’ of the world. But the unspeakable brutality of Anene Booysen’s disembowelment and murder has utterly shocked the nation and the globe. The root causes of these crimes lie deep in society, and that’s where we’ve got to address it — starting with a massive government campaign the likes of which the country has never seen.
President Zuma and other leaders are speaking out and calling for dialogue. But that’s not enough. South Africa already has the Sexual Offences Act, a national action plan and various Government departments focused on stopping assaults, but they are struggling to have an impact, faced with the rampant culture of sexual violence and impunity that runs through communities, law enforcement and the institutions that are supposed to protect women. We can challenge this culture head-on by demanding right now, with the State of the Nation address and budget days away, that the government commit massive resources to a long-term programme to end this scourge of rape.
This war on our sisters, daughters, granddaughters — on ourselves — is South Africa’s shame. Only if we all stand together and say ‘enough is enough’ can we take the Government’s commitments and turn them into action. Let’s do this to honour Anene and to make her tragedy the tipping point for change. We only have days before the budget — let’s build the largest petition in South African history! Sign now and send this to everyone: www.avaaz.org
Here are the scary stats: between a quarter and a third of men admitted to rape and in 2010, over 56,000 rapes were recorded at an average of 154 a day. And these are just the few women that report attacks to police — with the conviction rate for perpetrators so low and the emotional toll so high, most survivors stay silent. The Medical Research Council estimates that up to 3,600 rapes happen daily in this nation of close to 52 million people. A culture of abuse means that for many, rape is not seen as a crime but something that is a daily occurrence.
Reports worldwide show that massively funded public education campaigns can radically shift social behaviour on all kinds of issues from HIV prevention to domestic violence that often prove resistant to other methods. To challenge this crisis now, the campaign needs to be at a huge scale and long term using personalities that have influence and covering the airwaves and schools with messages tackling the root causes. Only the government can make this happen. It should start with an official Commission of Enquiry, which can work with activists and experts in the field to dig deep into what’s driving this epidemic — and what’s most needed to curb it.
Anene’s horrific torture and murder has started a national soul-searching. But we could quickly be pushed back to into silence unless we all join forces and demand immediate action. A public education campaign would have a significant impact on popular cultural attitudes and a concerted joined up push to stamp out this crime could be the game-changer. This crisis will not be overcome by stricter laws and tougher enforcement alone and the government will determine the budget in days. Sign up now and tell everyone — let’s build an unprecedented national petition for the government to invest the will and resources.
Our community has fought to stop violence against women across the world. Now let’s build a new movement for change in South Africa and use our massive power to end this crisis.
Up to 3 600 rapes in SA every day (Independent Online)
South Africa’s Rape epidemic: the limits of outrage (Daily Maverick)
Butied in a white coffin: Anene Booysen is laid to rest (Mail & Guardian)
South African girl’s gang-rape and murder triggers political outrage (Guardian)