Sonke launches the #Safe campaign for 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children

Today Sonke Gender Justice (“Sonke”) launches its #Safe campaign to coincide with 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (“16 Days of Activism”). The 16 Days of Activism, runs from 25 November to 10 December and is an international campaign that raises awareness of the far-reaching negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children, and on society as a whole. The Sonke #Safe campaign for this period suggests a range of concrete strategies on how South African society can become gender equitable and violence-free.

Levels of violence in South Africa are staggering. Rape in South Africa is at endemic levels.1 Reporting rape and receiving adequate services remain an on-going problem. SAPS statistics note that while a staggering 51 895 cases of sexual offences were reported to police in the year 2015/2016,2 we do not know how many of these cases related to rape. In addition, sexual violence is underreported due to stigma and fear, a social system that discourages reporting, and a lack of confidence in police. The Medical Research Council estimates the actual number of rape cases at 7 times higher than reported figures.3

Such critical and urgent problems require a comprehensive, inspired and nation-wide response. Therefore, to address the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa, during 16 Days of Activism and beyond, Sonke continues its call on government to urgently adopt and implement a fully costed, multi-sectoral and coordinated National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSP on GBV).         

In its ten year existence, Sonke has generated concrete solutions to tackle gender-based violence, encourage gender equality and challenge violent masculinities based on evidence and practice. These strategies take into account the many, complex factors in our society that contribute to gender-based violence and gender inequality ranging from lack of communication within families, oppressive religious and cultural norms, sexual harassment during travel, to safety in public spaces.

In addition to an NSP on GBV, Sonke’s #Safe Campaign will focus each day on one of the following advocacy demands that we believe will create concrete, evidence-based solutions to gender-based violence, catalyse gender equality and challenge violent masculinities

  • Ban corporal punishment
  • Decriminalise sex work
  • Make public transport safer
  • Reduce overcrowding and unsafe conditions in prisons
  • Strengthen appropriately gun and alcohol laws
  • Pass hate crimes legislation
  • Provision of psycho-social support to survivors of GBV and children exposed to it
  • Address the harmful gender norms that drive the spread of HIV

Through this campaign, we will focus on the different ways in which Sonke and its partners are working to make South Africa and the region safer – not only during 16 days, but also beyond.

Follow us on Twitter @sonketogether, Facebook SonkeGenderJustice/NGO and Instagram @sonkegenderjustice – and join the conversation and our advocacy efforts.


Karen Robertson
Communications and Strategic Information Unit Manager, Sonke Gender Justice
021 423 7088

Marlise Richter
Policy Development and Advocacy Unit Manager, Sonke Gender Justice
021 423 7088

Bafana Khumalo
Director of Strategic Partnerships, Sonke Gender Justice
011 339 3589


  1. Amanda P. Viitanen and Christopher J. Colvin “Lessons learned: program messaging in gender-transformative work with men and boys in South Africa” Global Health Action. 2015; 8: 10.3402/gha.v8.27860.
  2. Institute for Security Studies (2016). South Africa National Statistics. Available at:
  3. Jewkes, R. and Abrahams, N. (2002). The epidemiology of rape and sexual coercion in South Africa: an overview. Social Science & Medicine, 55(7), pp. 1231-44. Available at: