Play Your Part… don’t look away

Brand South Africa calls on all South Africans to recognise the importance of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign which starts on the 25thNovember; and to realise the importance of this year’s theme which is “Don’t Look Away”.

Though obvious to all of us, most people choose to look away when they are aware that abuse is taking place in their society.

Besides the historical foundations of such an attitude, where we all choose to adopt a “that’s not my problem” approach to increasing social ills, we are only harming ourselves in the long run.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign is not only about being vocal on abuse for 16 days but about creating awareness around this stain on our country. Increasingly we are inundated by reports of people who are trapped in abusive relationships, daily reports of children being molested, and because of this, we’ve developed a fatigued outlook on the matter.

The first step to curbing abuse is to acknowledge and to encourage those being abused to come out with it and report the matter to the police and the greater public. A “name and shame” approach is necessary in tackling abuse and regardless of the circumstances, or who was angered, abuse must be dismissed as a resort for solutions. This is an attitude that needs to be fostered amongst ourselves and our children. And it is an attitude that needs to be continually encouraged every day – not just for the 16 days.

The second step is to discourage violence as a method of solving differences. South Africa has seen more than enough bloodshed in dispute resolution and needs to become a society that uses smarter tactics to resolving problems.

The third step is for us, as the people of this country, to lead the way in acting against abuse. We need to get our children involved and need to foster relationships of mutual respect between boys and girls. We need to change our methods of instilling discipline and we need to teach and encourage those who are vulnerable a more elevated sense of self-respect.

Play your part by being a mentor to an Aids orphan and other vulnerable children by offering support and encouragement all the time. Encourage healthier relationships between boys and girls by teaching them that equality and choice are both a right and a privilege – that should never be abused. Look around your community and speak up about the gender imbalances and socio-economic challenges that are faced daily.

Once we get everyone to be productive pillars of society, we can also get everyone to engage in ways that are non-violent. And finally, play your part by speaking up when you see abuse; do not look away. And refuse to back down until you see that justice has taken its course.

What can you do, today, no matter how small, to make your country safer for all who live in it?

Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part is a social movement to get all South Africans to actively think about and begin doing something positive; and to recognise and celebrate those who are already doing something; big or small.  It is aimed at all South Africans, including civil society, government, corporate and non-governmental organisations, etc.  It has been created by the Brand South Africa to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship. All South Africans have access to resources that can contribute to a better future for all including time, money, skills or goods.

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