Stop this horrific tide of violence against children and women

Statement by Christine Muhigana, UNICEF South Africa Representative

21 February 2023

PRETORIA, 21 February 2023 – “The latest crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) once again depict the bleak reality of everyday life for women and children across the country.

More than three children and 12 women were murdered daily in South Africa over a 90-day period between October and December 2022. Another 21,434 children and women suffered attempted murder or grievous bodily harm. Recovering from the physical and mental scars of such violence will take years.

UNICEF South Africa has been reacting publicly to these quarterly statistics for the past year.

We speak out as a United Nations agency with a child rights advocacy mandate, and we will keep doing so because such high levels of violence against children and women should never be accepted as a norm in society.

Words though are not enough. Actions to break this cycle of violence are what’s needed.

It’s easy to lose hope looking at the statistics but prevention and early intervention programmes do work. We must learn from their real and everyday examples – this is where hope resides.

Like the case of Koketso*, who after joining a ‘parenting programme’ understood better how to educate his children without resorting to violence. The project under the Department of Social Development and supported by UNICEF works with fathers to help them understand why a more engaged and nurturing role in their children’s lives results in better outcomes for the whole family.

Or the case of Andile* who lost her parents as a child and was abused and thrown out of home by a family member. Her life could have gone very differently had it not been for the local Safe Park where she was protected, given food, access to health services and supported in her education. Today, she works as a child and youth social worker at the very same UNICEF supported Safe Park, as part of the Department of Social Development’s broader community based ‘Risiha Programme’. She provides the nurturing care and support she once needed to children who desperately seek it now.

These positive examples are not just anecdotes but are the result of effective, evidence-based programmes that work. These must be urgently scaled-up to help stem the rise in violence. 

This violence is a tragedy for every family, every community affected. But it’s also a tragedy for the development of South Africa and – if not urgently tackled – the future of a country that holds so much promise.”

Media contacts

Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486
Sudeshan Reddy
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 82 561 3970


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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