- Every day there are new reports of yet more sickening, violent attacks, particularly the rape of young girls and even babies, the unionists state. "There can be absolutely no justification for such barbarism. We reject totally the evil lie that sex with a virgin is a cure for HIV/Aids and condemn anyone who spreads such myths," COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven today stated.
After growing documentation of pervasive abuse of women and children in the South African society, the leading trade union today reiterated its demand that "the law must ruthlessly deal with those who rape children, with the maximum possible sentences for those found guilty of these horrific crimes."
- There can be absolutely no mitigating circumstances for such disgusting acts, Patrick Craven says.
- But these incidents of child rape are only the worst examples of a growing crisis of violence against women and children, says Craven. "Not only does such violence cause lasting damage to its victims but it creates a climate of fear and suspicion, where women are afraid to speak out because they do not have confidence that the law will protect them and children cannot grow up in a peaceful and stable environment."
- The scale of the problem is so great that it will taker more that a 16-day campaign to eradicate it, the COSATU spokesman admits. "It requires a massive task of education, to shift people's mindset away from the culture of violence and create communities where people trust and respect each other and feel confident in reporting violence incidents knowing that the perpetrators will be arrested and prosecuted and where children will no longer see violence as normal in society."
COSATU states it will intensify its work with community workers, teachers, parents, social workers, youth organisations, employers, doctors and children, "to reach agreement on measures to combat the scourge of violence, including setting up support groups for victims and raising awareness of women's and children's rights."
According to the spokesman, "In the background to the rising tide of violence is the desperate poverty in which thousands of families live, made worse by rocketing unemployment."
- While it can never be an excuse for violence, poverty robs people of their dignity, Patrick Craven says. "It gives rise to manifestations of social instability like drug and alcohol abuse and addictive gambling, which can lead to despair and violence."
- The biggest challenge we face is to defeat unemployment and eradicate poverty and build a stable and caring society, he concludes, demanding stronger government action.
Sources: Based on COSATU and