South Africa is known as the “Rainbow Nation”, a beautiful country abundant in life and hope. We see a country rich in cultural diversity, wildlife, beaches, mountains, minerals and mining. It is a country which possesses all the necessary ingredients to be a fruitful and harmonious land where no citizen is without shelter, food or safety. Yet, we know it is fraught with rising unemployment, illiteracy, dire poverty, crime, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism and drug abuse, corruption, widespread HIV and violent abuse against women and children.
The headlines in South Africa recently proclaimed that the people of South Africa have “had enough” of rising Femicide with reports of mass protests across the country.
Murder has always been an issue is South Africa but due to a spike of women murdered over August 2019, ironically also Women’s month in SA, fear and outrage boiled over and caused a multitude of protestors to take to the streets of Cape Town outside parliament on the 5 September 2019. Hundreds of protestors demanded answers from the government as to their plan to protect the vulnerable.
The big question repeatedly posed to the government with hashtags on billboards was “Am I next?” #aminext
The World Health organisation (WHO) defines femicide as intentional murder of women (girls) because they are women, and the perpetrator is usually male. Statistics in South Africa show that women and children are the most vulnerable to domestic, sexual, and emotional abuse with insufficient access to free shelter, protection, education, medical treatment or assistance let alone justice. The South African Police Service (SAPS) released the fact that 1 woman was murdered every 3 hours in the 2017/18 report. Also, in 2016, The WHO reported that South Africa had the 4th highest female interpersonal death rate out of 183 listed countries and that South Africa had 4.8 times the global average rate of violent death.
What actions can we take when we hear reports like this? Pray and support. Pray for the country and its leadership. Pray for those organisations, churches and establishments which endeavour to combat the harrowing statistics. Consider supporting, in faith, towards these ventures. During painful and challenging times, we are urged to pray and carry each other’s burdens (1 Thes 5v11).”
CRY supports the SOZO Educentre operating in an impoverished township in Cape Town, South Africa. Communities like Vrygrond are susceptible to systemic social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, child-headed homes and street-gangsterism. Living conditions are poor and their closely-packed homes are vulnerable to hazards like devastating fires which spread rapidly causing mass homelessness. This project offers a safe space for children to study after school as well as vocational support to young adolescents looking to be employable. These communities are often afflicted in large numbers and the SOZO Educentre have been vital in offering their assistance during crises experienced by the people of Vrygrond. By keeping kids off the street and assisting with their schooling, SOZO Educentre not only empowers children towards a future but also reduces the risk of crimes being committed against these vulnerable age groups.
To support CRY is to aid in finding a solution to overcome the susceptibility of communities to horrendous crimes and unjust conditions, to provide relief and shelter for those affected and be the hope in challenging circumstances.