Women in purple T-shirts hold up white signs. In front of them a banner with the crawl Lifeline.

Silence is not gold

As every year, the international 16 days of action against violence against women begin today. Between 25 November and 10 December, actions and events will take place worldwide to make the taboo subject public. Our South African partner organisation Lifeline also organised a protest march in Pietermaritzburg today.
Hafid Derbal, Programme Officer South Africa and Zimbabwe

"The problem is so big that we sometimes feel powerless," says Lungile, social worker at Lifeline, when asked about rape. In South Africa, over 65,000 rape reports are filed annually. But the real number of victims is far higher. Only about one tenth of rapes are actually reported and again only six percent of the reported perpetrators are punished. "To ensure that the tragedy does not sink beneath these numbing figures," Lungile continues, "the stories of the individual victims are all the more important. Also because most of them do not dare or are ashamed to break their silence. We support them in their efforts."

Victim died - offender known and at large
On today's march, Lifeline focuses on a current tragic case: a young woman who wanted to report her rapist was so badly maltreated by him that she died of her severe injuries a few days later. Although she was able to identify the perpetrator before her death, he was released on bail a few days ago. The trial against him is postponed until today. "He is allowed to enjoy this Christmas with his family, but not his victim and his family", a young woman said outraged during the rally.

Solidary and symbolic death
Giving victims like this one a voice and making the serious problem of violence visible is what Lifeline is all about in today's march. The silence and taboo in society, but also within families, must be broken. As a sign of solidarity, many of the nearly 120 participants had glued their mouths shut. They walked in silence to the town hall and "died" there symbolically for all victims of violence.

Violence must become public
After the march the participants gather in a hall to exchange their experiences. They are moving stories and it takes a lot of courage and trust to share them. It takes people who no longer look and listen away, but offer victims the space to break their silence. This is what Lifeline is about, not only today and for the next 16 days: violence against women must not remain a private matter, it must become a public issue. Victims of violence must be supported and perpetrators must be punished.

Nach oben scrollen