Networking HIV & AIDS Community of Southern Africa (NACOSA) has kicked off its “It Takes a Village to End Gender-based Violence” campaign. The initiative will stretch across this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence until 10 December, with emphasis on the role individuals and communities can play in preventing GBV and creating a safer environment for all.
“GBV is very high in South African communities,” says Dr Ntlotleng Mabena from NACOSA’s GBV Programme. “It is a physical and emotional assault on individuals and also a factor in HIV transmission. We believe communities have a vital role to play in preventing and responding to violence against women and children.”
Recent statistics underscore the urgency of addressing GBV in South Africa. Last year (2022–2023) saw 53 498 reported sexual offences, comprising 42 780 reported rapes (a 2.5% increase from the previous year) and 7 483 sexual assaults. Of great concern is the vulnerability of children, adolescent girls and young women, with at least 70% of sexual violence survivors reached in the post-rape care centres where NACOSA operates being under the age of 24, and over 90% being women and girls.
NACOSA, which is a leading network of community-based organisations, is devoted to supporting communities to craft and implement locally relevant initiatives to reduce the impact of HIV, GBV, tuberculosis and other public health priorities. NACOSA’s GBV programmes work in 87 post-violence care facilities across the country, providing services to more than 30 000 survivors of violence annually. Additionally, these initiatives focus on GBV and HIV prevention, reaching more than 162 000 young people with prevention activities last year.
“Children, adolescent girls and young women remain particularly vulnerable,” remarks Dr Mabena. “Last year, 70% of survivors in the post-violence care centres where NACOSA operates were under 24, with 90% being female. ”
Data reveals that sexual violence accounted for 61% of cases in the facilities where NACOSA’s GBV programme operates and almost a third of cases (30%) involved intimate partner violence. Moreover, in 76% of these cases, the perpetrator was known to the victim.
The latest campaign underscores the urgent need for collective action. It empowers individuals to take a stand against GBV and promotes awareness and provision of care and support to those affected.
“At NACOSA, we believe in the power of unified action. The ‘It Takes a Village’ campaign highlights the significant role each person, irrespective of position, holds in creating a safer and more equitable society,” states Dr Mabena.
The campaign’s core objectives are to:
• Promote collective responsibility – encourage individuals from all walks of life to acknowledge their role in preventing GBV.
• Raise awareness – increase public understanding of the severe consequences of GBV.
• Inspire action – provide practical ways to address GBV, such as accessing care, supporting victims, reporting abuse and promoting gender equality and diversity.
• Facilitate open dialogue – foster empathetic and understanding conversations about GBV within communities.
“This initiative underscores that every contribution, voice and action matters. Together, we’re taking strides toward a community where GBV is an issue of the past.
“It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to end gender-based violence. Together, we’re building a South Africa where everyone can live free from the threat of violence and discrimination,” concludes Dr Mabena.