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25 November 2015

Silent protest against gender-based violence to be held in Pietermaritzburg

The event will seek to highlight the dual epidemics of HIV and gender-based violence and will focus specific attention on the ongoing murder trial of Thulile Phugula that rocked Pietermaritzburg earlier this year.

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On 18 November the murder accused in the Thulile Phugula was granted bail. Thulile was strangled, dragged to a bush and forced to drink acid.

She later died of her injuries, but not before identifying her ex-boyfriend as the perpetrator.

If you would like to join the protest, members of the public are invited to wear purple in solidarity and join outside the public library at 12h00 on 25 November.

If you are unable to join the protest organisers encourage the public to donate their Facebook status for the day to raise awareness of HIV and gender-based violence or to tweet, using the hastags #SilentProtestPMB @AIDSHealthCareSA and #BreakTheSilence.

Read: 1 in 3 women worldwide abused

The Silent protest is the biggest protest against rape and sexual violence in South Africa and is unique worldwide in its carefully planned events. 

The main objective of the Silent Protest is to focus attention on the fact that rape and violence against women is a far greater epidemic that than the skewed statistics provided by the South African Police Services (SAPS) would indicate.

In their quest to report on improved crime statistics there is a disincentive for the SAPS to accurately report any violent crimes.

Read: Sexist jokes spur violence against women 

A number of other factors; including intimidation of the survivor by the perpetrator, fear of not being believed, of being blamed and shunned, of being interrogated, re-traumatised, labelled and pitied also contribute to the silence of victims.

To further complicate matters, low conviction rates, lengthy court cases and victimisation have bred a culture of impunity in South Africa, where rape is commonplace because there is a belief that there is no consequence for this heinous act.

The latest available statistics, reported in 2013/14 reveal that 66 000 sexual assaults were reported in SA. Of these only 6.5% have been successfully prosecuted and less than half of 1% of perpetrators will serve any jail-time.

Read: Any solutions for violence against women?

All studies agree that the vast majority of rape victims never report the crime to the police and there are many statistics available focusing on the ratio of reporting to non-reporting of rape survivors: the most conservative estimate comes from Rape Crisis (1 in 4) and the most shocking comes from the SAPS (1 in 25). These statistics translate to anywhere from 260 000 to over 1.5 million rapes annually.

“AHF recognises that it is impossible to halt the spread of HIV without also opposing the war on women’s bodies.

We have demonstrated our opposition to gender-based violence through events like the Silent Protest that was held in Durban on the 21st August 2015,” says Larissa Klazinga, AHF Policy and Advocacy Manager, “and we encourage all to stand in solidarity with LifeLine.”

Read more:  

Violence against women takes lifelong toll 

Silent protest against South Africa's rape culture to be held in Durban  

Female genital mutilation still rife in Africa 

 
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