PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 05: 13-year-old activist Zulaikha Patel during the memorial service of struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada at the Greek Orthodox Church on April 05, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. Gordhan who was the keynote speaker at the event, rubbished rumours that he was campaigning against the ANC. (Photo by Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

“Our message is going to be very clear that under any circumstances of violence against women and children, it is never the victim’s fault,” she told News24 on Wednesday.

This silent protest was sparked by the rape of a 7-year-old girl in the bathroom of a Dros restaurant in Silverton, Pretoria, in September that shook the nation.

The protest was also inspired by the suicide of a teenager in the UK who was forced to hold up her underwear during a rape trial after a lawyer used her choice of underwear as justification for the belief that she had consented to sex.

Patel, who was present during the 20-year-old Dros rape accused’s first appearance, said she would return to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday to implore the justice system not to take cases of gender-based violence lightly.

READ MORE: SABC seemingly unable to deal with gender-based violence cases – commission

“This is important to me because the justice system has failed so many victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Campaign to be launched at protest

“We need the justice system to take cases of this nature more seriously. Rape is dehumanising, and we need to protect victims,” she explained.

Patel first made headlines in 2016 when she led a group of Pretoria Girls’ High School pupils who stood up against the school’s hair policy that allegedly instructed black pupils to straighten their hair.

A campaign marking #16DaysOfActivism is expected to be kicked off on Friday at the protest where the 16-year-old will be joined by civil society groups.

The protest is one of many growing calls to address the high levels of violence against women and children in the country.

On 1 November, South Africa held its first ever national summit on gender-based violence and femicide where President Cyril Ramaphosa resolved that a revised action plan to address the scourge would be launched in 2019.

– News24