Fighting gender violence ‘everyone’s duty’

26 November 2013

It is the duty of all South Africans to play their part in the fight against the abuse of women and children, Brand South Africa said as this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign got under way on Monday.

“It is a basic human right to have a sense of safety and security,” Brand South Africa marketing and communications director Wendy Tlou said in a statement. “It is our duty as citizens of our country, young or old, men or women to play our part to build a non-violent and secure nation and make this a 365 day campaign in our country.

“We call on you to speak out and encourage victims to seek help,” Tlou said. “We urge all men to support women and children, and play their part through active opposition of abuse.

“As South Africa prepares to mark 20 years of democracy, there are many achievements and milestones that we can celebrate as a nation. We must begin to count as a success the way in which we treat women and children.”

Abuse ‘threatens our hard-won freedom’

Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana echoed these sentiments during the launch of the 16 Days campaign in Mafikeng, North West province on Sunday.

Xingwana said abuse threatened to erode many of the hard-earned gains of South Africa’s liberation struggle by condemning women and children to a life of fear and preventing them from being productive members of society.

“We believe that the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence require the collective efforts of all South Africans,” Xingwana said. “We remain convinced that empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment and abuse.”

The 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is a worldwide campaign that raises awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children and encourages people to act against abuse.

The campaign runs worldwide from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day), with the government, business, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and the media all participating in the awareness drive.

Measures to combat gender violence

South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against its women and children, despite a world-renowned Constitution and a legislative overhaul that safeguards women’s and children’s rights.

In the last year, the government has established a National Council against Gender Based Violence as well as an inter-ministerial committee to look into the root causes of violence against women and children in the country.

The reinstatement of sexual offences courts across the country over the next three years will also boost South Africa’s efforts to combat gender-based violence. The courts will feature specially trained officials, procedures and equipment to reduce the chance of secondary trauma for victims.

And earlier this month, Xingwana said the government would be working to implement the National Action Plan for Children. The plan, approved by the Cabinet in May, is a comprehensive guide for all government departments and agencies for realising children’s rights.

It takes into account the Constitution‚ international and regional treaties‚ South African legislation‚ the UN Millennium Development Goals and the National Development Plan.

“It is crucial that we invest more time and effort and exercise more vigilance to ensure that all our children are safe and protected,” Xingwana said. “Twenty years into our democracy, our democratic government has done a lot for our children, but we acknowledge that a lot more still needs to be done.

“We must continue to build a South Africa where our children feel safe and secure, and that responsibility falls on us as government and also on families, parents and communities. Our children need support from all of us.”

SAnews.gov.za