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The recent spate of violence against women

As an organisation that has worked in the field of gender based violence for many years, NACOSA is horrified by the latest news of the kidnapping, rape and murder of young women in South Africa. We are a deeply violent country – and our programmes deal with the consequences of this violence daily. Aside from the devastating physical, psychological and social impact of violence, it is also one of the main drivers of our HIV epidemic (the largest in the world with over 7 million South Africans living with HIV).

Women’s groups and organisations, including NACOSA, have spent years calling for a funded national strategic plan to address the unacceptably high levels of violence against women and children in our communities. As we learned with HIV and AIDS, a strategic, coordinated and properly resourced response is the only way we are going to be able to turn the tide.

NACOSA, as a civil society network with more than 1,800 member organisations, will actively engage in a new and reinvigorated campaign to address violence against women and children and other vulnerable groups by activating again for a national strategic plan for gender based violence. We call on our network and all South Africans to join us.

Enough is enough. We must end it now.

Practical ways to help

Turning the tide on gender based violence is not going to happen overnight and it may seem like a hopeless task. But there are ways to support survivors and help to mitigate the impact of gender based violence.

  1. Donate to and support women’s organisations and campaigns. Visit or the Stop Gender Violence campaign.
  2. If you or someone you know is raped or sexually assaulted, get to a health facility as soon as possible – within 72 hours – so that you can be given medication to prevent you getting HIV and other diseases. You do not have to report to police to get these free services.
  3. Rape and violence affects people in different ways. There is no ‘right’ way to react. Don’t pressure survivors to report but rather help them get the support they need to recover. If they do decide to report, the police will arrange transport to a health facility. By law, the police must help immediately even if the rape happened long ago and no matter where the rape happened.
  4. Challenge harmful myths and attitudes: rape is a crime no matter what the victim was wearing, if they were drunk or who they are. Rape is still a crime if you are married or involved with the person who raped you. Rape is still a crime if you are a sex worker. “Corrective rape”, or homophobic rape, is a hate crime in which people are raped because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Rape of the LGBTI+ community is often overlooked but is a reality.
  5. While violence perpetrated by strangers most often makes the news, women are generally more at risk from their intimate partners. People experiencing intimate partner violence can apply for a protection order at any police station. Children and young women are often raped by someone known to them and who are in a position of authority.  Often a family member, neighbour or even a teacher.  There are shelters or places of safety available for victims – support their work and advocate for adequate funding of these services.

Every one of us can do something, no matter how small, to help end the violence.