25 November-10 December…violence against women and children and all human life is abhorrent anytime of the year.
The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is an international awareness-raising campaign. It takes place every year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The period includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day.
This year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign (16 Days campaign) is important because we commemorate many milestones. The year 2014 marks 60 years since the signing of the Women’s Charter on 17 April 1954 in Johannesburg; 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa and 16 years of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
South Africa adopted the campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence. The campaign continues to raise awareness amongst South Africans about the negative impact of violence against women and children (VAW&C) on all members of the community.
The objectives of the 16 Days Campaign are to:
- Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate VAW&C; hence the theme: “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward.”
- Expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to include all government clusters and provinces.
- Combine technology, social media, the arts, journalism, religion, culture and customs, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways VAW&C affects the lives of all people in all communities around the world.
- Ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
- Encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is NOT a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.
- Emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us.
What is violence against women and children?
Violence takes many forms, for example:
- Physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crime such as murder, robbery, rape and assault.
- Emotional violence and trauma at many levels caused by many factors. Women and children in their homes, at work, at schools, on our streets, in our communities suffer this form of violence for various reasons.
- Another terrible blight of our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.
What can you do?
Together, let us take actions to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
- Support the campaign by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period: A white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises the commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
- Participate in the various 16 Days of Activism events and activities: See thecalendar outlining events taking place around the country over the period of the 16 days.
- Volunteer in support of NGOs and community groups who support abused women and children: Many organisations need assistance from the public. You can volunteer your time and make a contribution to the work of institutions. Help plant a garden at a shelter, sponsor plastic tables and chairs for kids at a clinic or join an organisation as a counsellor. Use your skills and knowledge to help the victims of abuse.
- Speak out against woman and child abuse.
- Encourage silent female victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
- Report child abuse to the police.
- Encourage children to report bully behaviour to school authorities.
- Men and boys are encouraged to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour.
- Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline (0800 150 150).
- Talk to friends, relatives and colleagues to take a stand against abuse of women and children.
- Try and understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate sexism and violence.
- Spread the message on social media using #16Days2014
- Join community policing forums (CPFs): The community and the local police stations are active partners in ensuring local safety and security. The goal is to bring about effective crime prevention by launching intelligence-driven crime-prevention projects in partnership with the local community.You may want to also become a reservist, a member of the community who volunteers his/her services and time to support local policing efforts to fight crime. For more information on how to join, contact your local police station.
- The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill provides government with the legislative authority to fast-track the empowerment of women and address issues of enforcement and compliance towards the attainment of our target of 50/50 gender parity.
- On 6 June 2011, Government launched the Strategy and Guidelines on Children Working and Living in the Streets [PDF]. This Strategy provides guidance on the services and programmes to be rendered to children living and working in the streets.
- The Green Paper on Families [PDF] seeks to strengthen and support families as the cornerstone of a well-functioning society.
- Since 1994, Government has developed several pieces of legislation to redress the wrongs affecting women and children.
- The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (Act No 7 of 2013)fights trafficking of young girls and women, and also the practice of ukuthwala, a form of abduction that involves kidnapping a girl or a young woman by a man and his friends or peers with the intention of compelling the girl or young woman’s family to agree into marriage.