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South Africa fights against gender-based violence

While South Africa is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, another epidemic of violence against women and children continues. South Africa has the highest number of reported rapes in the world and close to 3-thousand women were murdered last year, mostly by people they know or even partners. We have looked at an organization based in Cape Town that is trying to make a difference.

The Cape Flats is a sprawling landscape of poverty stricken townships just outside Cape Town. It is home to those forcibly removed from the city during Apartheid. Gender-based violence here is rife and is often fuelled by alcohol abuse and drugs like crystal meth.

It is here where Loretta Joseph is trying to make a difference. She started an organization to empower women in her community.

Loretta Joseph, WeCan organization founder: “I started WeCan organization 14 years ago with a group of women who were interested in doing something about the issues on gender-based violence”.

Joseph says what spurs her on is the senseless killing of her friend and neighbour last year.

“Ernestine was shot and killed by her husband who also committed suicide afterwards. Her parents are still struggling to come to terms with the murder of their daughter”.

Elizabeth Muller, victim’s mother: "I insisted that they take me to Ernestine until they later told me that she……(pause) he had shot her”.

This weekend WeCan will host an event for young women as part of a celebration of International Day of the Girl Child.

Lorane Chinoingira, WeCan volunteer: “To give them a voice, the voice to speak up about what it feels like to be a girl in this era now, in this world, in your community, in your school and your family”.

We talked to 3 young women to get a sense of what it is like growing up on the Cape Flats. 18-year-old Hakeemah says sexual abuse is quite common in her school and community.

Hakeemah Matinka: “Sexual abuse, rape have become so normalized. It has become the new norm because we have grown so accustomed to it, we see it everyday”.

Her 16-year-old sister Lateefah says she would like to bring change to her community.

Lateefah Matinka: “Education is of great importance so I try my best at school because I know that this is the only way to come out of the community and then come back and change things for the better. Whether I become a doctor or a lawyer I would come back to the community and change the situation”.

Anthea was recently crowned as Ambassador of Kindness at a local beauty contest and she can be a role model to empower other young women to speak out against abuse.

Anthea Isaacs, WeCan volunteer: “It is not just about beauty, it is the way we think, so that was the inspiration for me as well, to make a difference with the title or even without the title”.

In November WeCan will also take part in the 16 International Days of Activism campaign that focuses on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children.

Johann Abrahams, Wade Coetzee, Moja Media