Five days into South Africa’s “16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children” and I have become acutely aware, almost hyper sensitive of the mounting cases of violence against women and children.
This international awareness-raising campaign takes place every year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).
South Africa adopted the campaign in 1998 with the aim of creating a safer society devoid of violence. Awareness is to be raised amongst South Africans about the about the plight of women and children who have been violated and abused. The motto is : “Count me in : Together moving to a non-violent South Africa forward.”
South Africans are advised to :
- Wear a white ribbon (a symbol of peace and commitment) during the 16-day period.
- Participate in the event planned in and around the 16 Days of Activism.
- Not allow any type of bullying.
- Contact the helpline to report any form of abuse.
- Encourage victims to say that “enough is enough”, speak about their plight and seek assistance.
- Understand that acceptance of abuse perpetuates sexism and violence.
- Spread the message on social media using #16Days2014.
Did you know that more than half the women murdered worldwide last year were killed by their partners or family members. The very home that is supposed to have been secure has become “the most dangerous place for a woman”, most of the perpetrators being intimate partners.
This past Sunday, our elderly (79) aunt was murdered in her home, stabbed by someone she knew. The funeral was held yesterday. The culprit handed himself over to the law. A decent, gentle life snuffed out unnaturally. The crime was publicised, the outcry was “Shame, RIP”. Yes it is a shame, yes, she must rest in peace. Is that it though? Just rest in peace? Some head shaking sorrow and a statistic?! A valued member, mother, carer who lived her life with hard work, in adversity, was senselessly killed.
What is needed by the authorities is prevention, effective policing and sentencing. We asked for the death penalty to be brought back but was denied. Abusers need to be aware of the consequences of their actions, held accountable and punished in the manner befitting the crime. Whilst the Parliament may have their acts in place, effective action and punishment needs to be enforced to ensure that violent crimes will not be tolerated. To ensure that all this is justifiably managed,the health & social sectors, policing forum and judicial system are to work together to eliminate violence against women and children.
Communities are advised and encouraged to stand together to “promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children”. Murder, robbery, rape, assault,d omestic and emotional violence has taken its toll on society, “Poverty, inequality and unemployment“ are conditions under which violence thrives. Education needs to begin when males are young. Parents need to ensure that this behaviour is unacceptable, beginning with “little” acts of classroom bullying. It must not be fobbed off as “boys will be boys!” The message of the repercussions of violent actions needs to be reinforced. It is imperative that women learn to protect themselves.
Such is the world, that it is with sadness that I say, that self defence, needs to be part of the Life Orientation process at school. Would you not want your child to be safe? Items of interest and actions of this nature should be brought to the Community Policing Forums and community leaders, responses sought from the education department and implemented.
A concerted effort from all is necessary to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. Do not commit or condone violence against women and children. Enough is enough.