Johannesburg, 30 November, 2019 / 4:20 am (ACI Africa).
As the global community continues to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that started November 25 advocating for the elimination of all forms of gender violence, Church leaders under the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), a region that has recorded the highest cases of femicide in Africa, have called on all people to use the upcoming Advent season to promote the dignity of women and girls, taking deliberate initiatives to end gender-based violence that usually targets the female gender.
“In this time of Advent let us heed the call addressed to all of us to bring the gift of God’s life to the women of Southern Africa, especially those who are living in abusive relationships and those who are victims of violence and rape,” reads part of a pastoral letter signed by SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka.
“This is a very sad and tragic moment in our land when women and young girls are murdered and subjected to all forms of violence, physical and emotional,” the Bishops of the region comprising Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland have decried in their November 28 statement availed to ACI Africa.
Describing the situation in their region as a “context of fear and trauma for women,” the Bishops are considering the Season of Advent as a time offering Christians in their respective countries “an opportunity to aspire to imitate Jesus Christ who in his incarnation made himself vulnerable and indeed suffered violence at the hands of those who refused to follow him.”
In its 2016 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that South Africa (and Lesotho) are among the top four countries with the highest femicide rate globally, both at 29.9, with a woman being killed every 4 hours in South Africa.