GEORGE NEWS - Take a stand and break the cycle of violence. That was the plea of Eden Cluster Commander, Maj-Gen Oswald Reddy, when he addressed the Gender-based Violence and Femicide Summit that was held at the Conville Community Centre on Monday.
The summit was hosted by the Garden Route District Municipality in collaboration with the police and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety.
About 200 people, that included representatives of the police, government, civil society and other role players, attended the summit.
It was described as an effort to find solutions to the scourge of gender-based violence that plagues communities. Reddy stressed that the summit is not a talk shop; action should be taken. Reddy said crime and gender-based violence do not know boundaries.
The statistics are alarming and there may be various reasons for it. Gender-based violence has already been declared a national disaster, yet a certain stigma still exists about gender violence, causing people to feel embarrassed to talk about it.
He pointed out that gender-based violence most often happens indoors in the privacy of a house. Between 90% and 95% of the perpetrators are known to the victims. These are people that are trusted and supposed to protect.
He stressed that violence is a vicious cycle that should be broken. Young children watch their parents; they see that conflict is resolved through violence. When they grow up and become husbands, mother and fathers, the cycle continues because they think this is the way to handle it.
Reddy said Eden has the second highest rates of sexual offences in the Western Cape. When he arrived in the area in 2015, he thought this is paradise and there can't be crime here, but he was wrong.
He undertook to make sure that police officers are trained in sign language and braille to assist victims with these specific needs.
Justin Lottering of the Department of Community Safety said people must understand why they are at the summit. If government, the private sector and civil society don't stand and work together, the country will become a lost society.
Monde Stratu, Municipal Manager of the Garden Route District Municipality, said we dare not tolerate gender-based violence. It seems as if the incidents are getting more, though a possible reason could be that more people are coming forward about the matter.
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