Brave.RUN - running to feel safe in our streets

Warning: this blog post is not for sensitive readers. It contains graphic stats that will shock and sicken, particularly those readers shoetered on distant shores. the stats speak of a reality that is South Africa - an angry, dark reality that can, and MUST, be changed.

There were 827 children murdered in South Africa in 2012/2013. That’s more than two a day.
There were also 21 575 children assaulted, with more than half of those attacks severe.
Over the same period 2 266 women were murdered, and another 141 130 women were victims of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.
Many of the incidents never even made it into a newspaper.
At best, half of these cases made it to court, and not all of those that did resulted in in a guilty verdict with the perpetrator being punished.
(extracted from an article by Dr Chandre Gould, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Services)

The irony is that South Africa is home to globally unprecedented violence against its women and children, despite a world-renowned Consitition that safeguards women's and children's rights.

Violence affects everyone. The problem is severe, and it affects all walks of life, irrespective of socio-economic status, ethnicity, age or religion. 
Studies report that 40% - 50% of women in our country have experienced intimate partner violence. In SA incidents of violence are severely under-reported, as is violence in general. There are approximately 55 000 rapes reported annually, and this figure is estimated to be nine times lower than what it actually is.

The fact is that violence against women and children is firmly entrenched in South Africa, and the situation does not appear to be changing. Instead, violence has become an accepted way to assert, and reassert, masculine dominance across society.

The physical and emotional consequences of social violence are enormous. With each year that violence remains so prevalent, the number of South Africans who have witnessed, experienced or been exposed to violence grows, as does the extent of national trauma.

Every girl, every woman has the right to walk, run, play, and BE, without the threat of violence.
If the stats aren’t scary enough, then try the fact that just as there is no single cause of violence and crime, there is no single solution. There is urgent need for a national effort to drive awareness of the impact of this frightening reality, challenge the perpetrators of violence to change their behaviour, and provide survivors with the necessary encouragement and support to help rebuild their lives.

This weekend, a small group of runners supported by people from the local communities of the Cape Flats told their world that enough is ENOUGH. They put their figurative foot down in support of the promotion of a culture of non-violence against women and children in South African society.

Championed and organised by Rock Girl founder India Baird, the Brave.RUN was a first of its kind – a pan-community run from Khayelitsha through the Cape Flats to Heritage Square in the centre of Cape Town. the idea was sparked by the shocking and tragic deaths of two teenage girls, Sinoxolo Mafevuko from Khayelitsha and Franziska Blochliger of Tokai, who were brutally raped and murdered in the same week in March. The initiative also gave voice to the hundreds of thousands of other girls and women who have experienced violent verbal, physical and sexual attacks.

Patrolled along the entire route by the South African Police Services to ensure safety, runners and kids from the local communities wound their way along the 34km course through the streets of Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Lavender Hill, Rylands, Langa, Rondebosch, Salt River and Woodstock, passing police stations in each area and ending at the Rock girl mosaic benches on Heritage Square in Cape Town.

The effort was huge (many folk had never run more than 10km) and the energy was incredible. Many ran the entire distance, others ran what they could and hopped onto the Rock Girls support vehicles to rest before rejoining us further on. At any one time there were 30 of us – some as young as five years old – and we ran and ran and ran, all charged by the same purpose. In those few hours, we sent a clear message through the gang-ridden communities of the Cape Flats that women and children should NOT have to tolerate violence, and that crime is NOT the way forward.

Next year, and every year, the Brave.RUN will grow bigger, delivering that same message ever louder. Cape Town runners, make sure you join us. Bring your friends and family, spread the word, and be a part of making our country a safer place. Be part of sending a message of support to all women and girls across South Africa, showing we are not afraid, but UNITED.

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