Rape protest outside Pavilion

2007-12-22 00:00

Sixteen days of activism for no violence against women and children is not enough. South Africa has the highest rape statistics in the world and ordinary citizens cannot stand by and accept that, said Peter Watt, pastor at the Westville Christian Fellowship and organiser of a 12-hour vigil at the intersection in front of the Pavilion Mall today.

Watt said the 150-plus protestors are taking advantage of the last-minute Christmas shopping frenzy to highlight the plight of the 144 women who are raped every day in South Africa.

“We realise that this is meant to be the festive season, but unfortunately, we also know that rape increases over this time. This is a reality that we cannot ignore. We also recognise that the 16 Days of Activism have recently come to an end. However, we would like to take responsibility for at least one of the remaining 349 days of the year,” he said.

The vigil, named the STOP Rape Campaign, which will take place at the intersection of Booth, Mahlati and Spine roads, will begin at 6 am and end at 6 pm. A core of people from Westville and Chesterville will remain on the kerbside for the entire 12 hours while other groups will come for two-hour shifts throughout the day. They will wear black T-shirts with “STOP Rape” on the front. Pavilion general manager Preston Gaddy has given permission for the T-shirts to be sold inside the mall.

Watt has invited shoppers who wish to add their voices to the protest against rape to join in.

“This will be a peaceful vigil aimed at drawing people’s attention to the horrific reality of rape. It is not a general gripe about crime. It is not anti-government. It is about making a stand and statement against this scourge. It will be a voice of solidarity with rape survivors and a voice of dissent against those who minimalise this issue as just a statistic or someone else’s problem.

“In 2006/7, 52 617 women were raped in South Africa and we do not know how many cases went unreported. This is not a situation or statistic that we should tolerate. Let’s not sit back and get used to the abnormal. Unfortunately, we often do not respond to these realities until it affects us or someone we know or love. We are saying that this is already happening in our country to far too many people,” he said.

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