A student from the Wits drama school lays out a sign on pairs of shoes to raise awareness around the issue of gender-based violence at Wits University. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/EPA

Sonke Gender Justice has launched its own #BeAccountable campaign to mark 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), 12 in every 100 000 women are victims of femicide in South Africa each year – a figure which is nearly five times worse than the global average of 2.6.

In September this year, in the midst of what President Cyril Ramaphosa labelled a “very dark period for us as a country”, SA Police Service's crime statistics revealed that sexual offences increased by 4.6% compared to the previous financial year.

Sonke in a statement highlighted brutal incidents of gender-based violence that happened just this year alone. 

"August – a month that is meant to honor the women who marched to the Parliament Buildings on August 9 1956 - was marred by the widely publicized brutal killings of University of Cape Town (UCT) student Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing champion Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels.

"Although Luyanda Botha, the man convicted of killing Mrwetyana, was sentenced to three life sentences in the Western Cape High Court earlier this month, there is a growing sense that there is no accountability for many of these crimes. Who many of these heinous crimes remain unsolved or unreported? It is for this reason that the theme we have chosen for this year is, “16 Days of Accountability on GBV and femicides.”

"Earlier this year the president signed the declaration on Gender-Based Violence and femicide. The declaration pledges to eradicate violence against women in the country.

Sonke said while it welcomes Ramaphosa's commitment to ending the scourge of gender-based violence, it is also deeply concerned by the fact that there are no foolproof systems in place to ensure that the commitments made by duty bearers on ending gender-based violence are routinely monitored and evaluated.

"Through examining the role played by various state institutions, the criminal justice system, institutions of higher education, the media and civil society organs our #BeAccountable campaign aims to highlight the importance of a culture of accountability amongst those who have an obligation or responsibility to promote and realize human rights.

"Ending gender-based violence is possible. Let us all hold each other accountable and ensure that South Africa is gender equitable and violence-free," Sonke said.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicked off on the November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until the December 10, Human Rights Day.

Every year, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign either introduces a new theme or continues an old theme that focuses on one particular area of gender inequality.


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