As 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence ends, activist Rochelle Pimentel says frequently cited rape states are wrong.
At the age of 16 years, Pimentel says she was gang raped by five men and was sexually molested for seven years following the altercation. Her first-hand experience with gender-based violence led her to create the local nongovernmental organisation, Love167.
She says that government frequently says that 55,000 rapes are reported annually countrywide. Pimentel says that this statistic is not only out-dated but under-estimates rape.
Although gender-based violence is often under-reported, Pimentel said that more accurate data was needed to help pressure leaders into action.
Pimentel was speaking at a recent march to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature where organisations delivered a memorandum demanding that government create a national strategic plan to end gender-based violence.
Marching alongside Pimentel was rape survivor Karen Davidson. Raped at the age of 13 years, Davidson did not reveal her rape until 30 years later in 2012.
“Breaking the silence is what helped me,” said Davidson, who added that she hoped to be a voice for many survivors who continue to suffer in silence.
As the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign draws to a close today, Sonke Gender Justice fellow Mateenah Hunter said gender-based violence should be a priority 365 days a year.
“We, as different civil organisations, are hoping to get the government to respond as soon as possible,” Hunter told OurHealth. “16 Days of Activism’s (focus on gender-based violence) should be continuous throughout the year – it must not end.”