With the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence soon to begin, faith leaders are this year leading the call for an end to crimes perpetrated against women and children. The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has heeded the call and in collaboration with the MJC’s Women’s Forum (MJCWF), adopted a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) awareness campaign. The initiative culminates in a silent protest march on 28 November, 2017, under the theme ‘UNsilence Violence.
In a bid to effectively begin a constructive and proactive conversation on the issue, the MJC has partnered with Public Protector, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, IHATA Shelter for abused women, the Saartjie Bartman Centre for Women and Children, Rape Crisis, and Islamic Relief, amongst others.
Campaign organiser Majidah Emandien explains that the MJC is calling attention to the fact that gender-based violence cuts across all social barriers including age, race, class, and religion.
With gender-based violence posing an increased threat to communities within South Africa, she says the scourge leaves little room for positive transformation of families.
The MJC decided to take a decisive stance and speak out against the lived realities of females within the community.
“In recent statistics, reported by the Medical Research Council, 40 per cent of men assault their partners daily and three women are killed by their intimate partner every day,” Emendien stated.
Meanwhile, the director of IHATA Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Nuraan Osman, explains that when the organisation heard that faith leaders were answering the call in protest against gender-based violence, IHATA did not hesitate to add their name to the campaign.
She further commended the ulama body and its Women’s Forum for taking a stance on the issue.
“If we realise the impact of the faith community on the mind-set and the paradigms of people then we realise that it is a very worthy partnership.”
While IHATA does not exclusively assist Muslim women, the organisation was born out of a need within the Muslim community in which the issue of domestic and gender-based violence is often considered taboo.
Osman says that many women are losing not only their sense of self-worth, but more worryingly, women have lost their lives to gender-based violence.
“If we don’t realise that gender based violence is very serious, that 40 per cent of partners are assaulting their women daily, then what happens to our future, how do young women perceive their role.”
Organisors are calling on all South Africans to stand up against crimes perpetrated against women and children, Emendien further noting that when society remains silent and complacent despite the prevalence of the issue, then it is directly involved in perpetuating the crime.
The silent protest will begin at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday, 29 November 2017, from 11h00 until 13h00.
Following the proceedings, protestors will reconvene at the stadium for a closing programme, which will be led by the MJC and its partners, including the Department of Justice, South African Human Rights Commission, the Public Prosecutor and the IHATA Shelter.
“We appeal to government, faith leaders, NGO’s, education institutions and all communities to unite against the onslaught on South Africa’s most vulnerable, our women and girl children. We believe only through a united approach by all stakeholders, across all sectors, the desired impact will be achieved,” the MJC’s official statement read.