‘We must continue to speak out’

City of Cape Town councillors joined mayor Dan Plato and Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez during a candlelit ceremony in remembrance of those lost to violence.

Mayor Dan Plato launched a series of events, the first of them in Mitchell’s Plain, where organisations which work with survivors of abuse, and rehabilitated offenders participated in a programme themed “Reach Out, Stand Up and Be Heard” on the high levels of gender-based violence.

The programme is aimed at urging men to respect and protect women.

“It is shameful that the scourge of violence against women and children is continuing in our country with no end in sight,” said Mr Plato.

“Too often we see another story of men, who are meant to protect their families and loved ones, being the ones perpetrating the violence. Our homes are the first places where we must practise kindness and respect towards those we claim to love.

“While this campaign takes place for just over two weeks each year, the reality is women and children living in these situations experience abuse and violence throughout the year.

“This is why we must continue to speak out against this violence and not just during a campaign,” he added.

The programme included speeches from the South African Police Service, as well as a play which underscored the need for action and dialogue to combat violence in communities. These events have been taking place during the 16 Days of Activism which ends tomorrow, Thursday December 10.

Mr Plato noted that crime statistics for murder and rape had increased since last year, as had cases of sexual assault and common assault.

“It is clear that attitudes have not changed and we need to work harder to educate our boys and young men,” he said.

The mayor’s task team, comprising religious leaders and experts, announced at last year’s event, works in communities and engages young people through social interventions.

Some of the events are Women For Change Programme, which seeks to enable women to play a more significant role in their local neighbourhoods, while developing and learning skills.

Another is The Men and Masculinities Programme, aimed at both young and adult men.