In light of two high profile cases of gender violence in the media recently, the Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM) will host a vigil on Friday 13 February to draw attention to the cycle of violence plaguing women. Two weeks ago, five year old Kayde Williams from Bredasdorp was raped and murdered, exactly two years ago since 17 year old Anene Booysen was raped, mutiliated and left for dead. On the same day, four white pupils from the Jan Kempdorp High School in the Northern Cape raped a black learner with a broomstick. Both incidents have sent shockwaves across the country.
In a statement on Monday, the CMRM said they were concerned by the “increasing violent and sadistic nature of these horrendous attacks” on young people.
“These indiscriminate and grotesque attacks have rightly sent shock waves throughout South Africa. However, we believe that gender based violence requires much more than our outrage and condemnation. It requires solidarity and authentic social reform,” said Imam Rashied Omar.
“We believe that this vigil should be used to re-affirm our solidarity with victims of gender based violence and to commit ourselves to take collective responsibility to end the scourge of rape and gender based violence in our society.”
The Medical Research Council reports that over 140 women are raped daily in South Africa. This amounts to approximately six cases every hour.
Omar said communities have a collective responsibility to act as gender based violence destroys the social fabric of society.
“All responsible citizens and people of conscience must step up and take responsibility to fight this plague in our society. We can no longer remain silent and inactive in a country which has the disgraceful reputation of being the rape capital of the world. To bring positive change we need to move beyond advocacy for policy reform and focus on the root causes of gender based violence.”
“Fighting against gender based violence is an urgent ethical and socio-political imperative of our times. It is central to the broader ideals of social justice and human equality and dignity.”
The CMRM has called on faith communities to engage critically and deeply on gender relations. The masjid believes there should be a dialogue on how society fosters acceptable norms for men and women, the gender values we promoted through communal actions and ritual forms, as well as the vigilance towards potential sexual predators within communities.
“As faith communities it is our ethical and moral responsibility to focus on the roots and solutions to all forms of gender and sexual violence within each of our communities. Gendered violence is among other things, the result of a deficit in our moral capacities to imagine and live with a vision of the human being based on social justice and human dignity,” said Omar.
“We call on our communities to work together to protect and help the vulnerable members of society from becoming victims of violence and to co-operate with law-enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to justice. For people of faith – whatever our tradition – these horrific events must serve as a sobering reminder of our need to continue to witness against violence directed at the oppressed and our parallel commitment to assist in the building of a non-sexist South Africa.”
The CMRM has also urged all religious leaders from all denominations to use their weekly sermons and teachings to raise awareness amongst their congregants and to sensitize them to the need for eradicating the scourge of gender based violence.
The vigil will take place along the Main Road in Claremont on Friday 13 February from 13:30 until 14:15 to show solidarity and pray for those affected by gender based violence. VOC