Women and children experience violence on a daily basis in South Africa albeit the idea of women walking freely in the streets and children playing safely in open spaces are at the core of the National Development Plan goal on safety and security. A majority of women would agree that it is reflected in situations males, for instance, are not cognizant of such as the rush of adrenaline when boarding a taxi full of men.
Women and children live in constant fear of their rights to safety and security being infringed upon, often by their immediate family or friends. It is because of that point that violence against women and children should be campaigned for on more days than not.
The objectives of the 16 Days Campaign according to The South African Government are to:
• Attract all South Africans to be active participants 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.
Given the scourge of Gender-Based violence in the country, which is declared a national address, the government is implementing the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which was announced by President Cyril in September 2019… During the 16 Days period, the government together with civil society and the private sector will host a series of community and sector dialogues and activities to foster a collaborative effort in dealing with GBVF.
These objectives, amongst others, are founded on an excellent premise, however, it becomes counterproductive when the same “government or criminal justice system” only emphasizes and encourages active participation from citizens during this time. We are still faced with incidences where women are turned away from police stations when reporting gender-based violence and children not listened to unless accompanied by a guardian (who is almost always the perpetrator himself). This contradicts the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” in the sense that, the police officer whom the child reports abuse to automatically becomes the guardian and thus has a duty to ensure the truth behind what is being reported is discovered.
Speaking out against and reporting child abuse should become a language spoken daily wherein dialogues and workshops about perpetuating behaviours are prioritized as much as they will be the next coming weeks. Help which victims are encouraged to seek should be readily available and the authorities must be trained well enough to deal with the complexities of their symptomatic behaviour. More would actually be accomplished when we work together 365 days a year in unity against the disconcerting scourge of violence against women and children. The rate of suicide deaths is at an all time high sparing no one based on their demographics.
ACTIVATE! calls out all forward-thinking South Africans to keep fanning the blaze of combatting this scourge past the campaign period. It is our duty to ensure our mistakes today don’t haunt our children tomorrow; that we rectify the elements which seek to normalise gender-based violence on all spheres of life.