Violence and abuse is the reality of many South Africans, and it is often a symptom of deeper social problems within our society. By standing up, and speaking out, we can bring about change, especially for the many women and children who are enduring and suffering violence. The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, which runs from 25 November 2021 to 10 December 2021, is “Change the world: End violence against women now!”
The 16 Days of Activism Campaign focuses on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse has on women and children, and the social fabric of our society.
Why is this campaign important?
The rights of women and children are fundamental human rights protected by our Constitution. Gender-based and child violence, in all its different forms, devalues human dignity and the self-worth of the abused person. It must be stopped in our society. The campaign can only succeed if we stand together to safeguard our society against this cycle of abuse.
What is abuse?
Abuse is any form of harm, including when someone is:
• hurting your body physically or sexually,
• insulting you, or threatens you with violence,
• harassing you sexually,
• humiliating and degrading you at home or in public,
• controlling how you use your money,
• preventing you from getting or keeping a job, or to see friends or relatives,
• stalking you, by following you or visits you without your permission,
• harming your health or wellbeing, or
monitoring your phone calls and telling you where you can or cannot go.
What's the purpose of the campaign?
The campaign aims to:
• Generate an increased level of awareness among all South Africans about the negative impact of violence and abuse on women and children.
• Stand up to perpetrators of these offences to change their behaviour.
• Enhance and increase partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organisations, and the media to spread the message.
• Raise funds for NGOs that provide invaluable support to the victims and survivors of violence.
• Provide survivors with information on these services and organisations that can help reduce the impact of violence on their lives.
• Engage actively with men and boys in the discourse about combating violence in our homes, our communities and in the workplace.
• Highlight the stories of survivors of gender-based violence and child abuse, and the impact that the campaign has had on their lives.
How can I support 16 Days of Activism?
Wear a white ribbon during the 16 days. A white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises your commitment to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
Other ways to support the campaign.
Volunteer some of your time and energy in support of a non-governmental organisation or community group working in your area to help abused women and children. Use your life skills and knowledge to help support victims of abuse.
Speak out against women 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 bullying to teachers or the school principal.
• Encourage men and boys to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour.
• Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner or children.
• Encourage and talk to friends, relatives, and colleagues to take a stand against the abuse of women and children.
• Spread the message and join the conversation on social media
• Join your community policing forum (CPF): The community and local police are active partners in ensuring local safety and security. The goal of the CPF is to bring about effective crime prevention by launching intelligence-driven crime prevention projects in partnership with local communities.
Where to go for help
Contact the following organisations to report women and child abuse:
• Gender Based Violence Command Centre: Call 0800 428 428 or dial *120*786#
• Stop Gender Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150
• Report neglect or abuse of a child: 0861 4 CHILD (24453)
• SAPS: 08600 10111
• Childline: 116
• Report any abuse of children and women to the Department of Social Development: 0800 220 250.
• LifeLine (24-hour crisis helpline): 021 461 1111
• Find out more about our safety services for women and children by sending an SMS with the word INFO to 35 395.
• If you are a witness and fear for your safety for reasons linked to being a witness, you can apply for witness protection. Contact the Witness Protection Unit at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on 012 845 6000.