#Count me in: together moving a non-violent SA forward

The white ribbon is the symbol of support for the 16 Days of Activism campaign (25 November – 10 December 2017). It symbolises peace, and the commitment to never commit or condone violence against women and children. Photo: bigissue.org.

The 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children campaign is commemorated across the globe to strengthen the rights of women and children and raise awareness of the scourge of abuse against them.

Each year, the period from 25 November to 10 December is set aside to highlight both abuse as the poison that cripples our society and human rights, and the initiatives that are running in many parts of the country in support of gender-based violence victims.

Read more: March to raise awareness against abuse

According to Brand South Africa, the 16 Days campaign began in 1991, when the Women’s Global Leadership Institute, a feminist establishment started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), initiated both the campaign, and the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on 29 November. The activists at CWGL also took 1 December –World Aids Day – into account, and associated all these significant days with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which the United Nations General Assembly formally classified in 1999, as 25 November. The end of the 16 Days of Activism campaign is celebrated on International Human Rights Day, which is on 10 December.

In 1998, South Africa nominated the 16 Days of Activism campaign as the blue-print for curbing violence in the country, and uses it as a time to educate communities about abuse, which includes rape, murder, assault, financial abuse, starvation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, abduction, sexual harassment, human trafficking, incest, child labour and any act of doing something against the other person’s will. The 16 Days of Activism campaign also tells people how to get help when you or someone you know has been abused.

The campaign has seen various governmental departments involved in acting against abuse, as well as initiatives, themes, talks, organisations and activities helping to eradicate abuse by providing information. As one of the strategic ways of fighting abuse and inequality, the government went so far as to establish a ministerial portfolio, the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities in May 2009, to put emphasis on not only equality but also the access to development opportunities for vulnerable groups in South African society. The Department aimed to steer the equity, equality and empowerment agenda of the government with regard to groups of people who are treated as insignificant, and previously disadvantaged communities in each of the three sectors.

You can take part in the 16 Days of Activism campaign by wearing a white ribbon, which symbolises peace and a commitment to act against abuse.

Remember the following:

• Memorise the Stop Gender-based Violence Helpline number – 0800 150 150.

• Teach children the number for Childline – 08000 555 55. Childline is dedicated to helping abused children.

• Spread the message of anti-abuse on social media platforms, by using the hashtag #metoo, read real stories of abuse written by South African women, and seek help if you are abused.

• If you are an abuser, call organisations that help abusers, such as Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ) on 011 339 3589 or follow SGJ on Facebook or Twitter for further assistance.

• Encourage men and boys to act against abuse, and report people who promote abuse to the Police on 08600 10111.

• Elderly people who suffer from abuse should call 0800 003 081.

• For advice on family relationships, call 011 975 7107.

• To report human trafficking, call 08000 737 238 or 082 455 3664.

• To report abused or neglected children, call the South African National Council for Child Welfare on 011 339 5741.

• Talk to someone you trust if you are abused.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] or phone us on 011 955 1130.

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  AUTHOR
Bathabile Msomi
Intern

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