SACBC Statement on crimes against women and children

The Most Reverend Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has issued the following press statement.


The recent unfolding agony of violence against women and children has resulted in a nation numbed with shock. The brutality of this and the knowledge that so many of these crimes have been perpetrated by individuals known to the victims raise questions that demand answers. Our society has been shaped by enduring which has compromised healthy family life, as well as the very fabric of our society.

A recent study indicated that 1 in 5 children have been sexually abused. Furthermore, 75% of boys experienced bullying at school. While corporal punishment has been banned at school the practice remain prevalent. Domestic violence is common. The physical integrity of women and children is not respected. There is a pervasive culture of alcohol and drug abuse which exacerbates the violence. Binge drinking among the young is common which undermines good judgement and social morals and can result in irresponsible and violent behaviour. Participation in gangs is commonplace and may result in collective violence and gang rape.

Each crime against a woman and child causes the delicate fabric of our society to unravel that much more. While some perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted through the criminal justice system, survivors face secondary victimization as the matter progresses through the courts. The social and human cost is immense.

Relying on successful criminal prosecution and subsequent incarceration as a solution is not going to result in the change we need. We have to go back to the beginning and look at the way we socialize our children if we wish to curb this violence in the future.  Instead of only investing huge sums of money in the criminal justice system and correctional facilities more allowance should be made for parenting programmes and support. This would do much to address the intergenerational spiral of violence and disregard for the corporal integrity of others. We need interventions to combat the normalization of violence at home, at school, at church and in our communities.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all victims of such violence. Victims sometimes blame themselves for what has happened to them but there is nothing that can justify such blatant cruelty.

+Stephen Brislin
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of the SACBC

19th May 2017