Communities are not giving enough support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. This is according to HIV/AIDS activists who spearheaded the launch of a campaign for 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children in Durban.
The 2017’s theme is ‘Breaking the Chains’. It is aimed at giving support to rape survivors by encouraging them to speak out, stop ignorance and denial around gender-based violence.
Rape survivor and activist Silungile Mntambo says gender-based violence is hardly reported and dealt with because of the stigma.
Mntambo is urging people to come together and fight the stigma.
“We have realised that there is a link between HIV and gender-based violence. Once, as a woman, you are known that you are living with HIV, definitely sure people will stigmatise you, discriminate (against) you … and gender-based violence … your partner will be violent towards you, community. Like for instance, an incident happened in Illovu township where a woman living with HIV and AIDS owned a tuck shop. After people knew she was HIV positive, they stopped buying from her tuck shop. We said no violence towards us. It is too much. Let’s come together and make a difference in our community.”
Meanwhile, Activist Larissa Klazinga says the wheels of the country’s justice system turn too slowly when dealing with gender-based violence. She says this causes many victims to drop charges.
“All of us have been touched somehow by gender-based violence. We all know that the statistics underplay the reality. The silent protest is trying to break the silence. The majority of people who are survivors of gender-based violence never reported it formally to the police because of the system impediment. You get told that you are making it up; maybe you were drunk when it happened; and somehow it’s your fault. There is no enough evidence. It’s his word against yours. The average rape cases take from the day of report to the day of final verdict in a trial, 4 years and 36 postponements. Who can stand and do that?”