THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM KICKED OFF IN KZN UNDER THE THEME #HEARMETOO: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN
The South African government launched the campaign for the year 2018 in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal under the #HearMeToo: End Violence Against Women and Children theme. During this time, the government will engage communities and hold discussions about violence in communities. By interacting with victims of violence and abuse, the government seeks to address these issues and curb violence against the vulnerable.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign was initiated in 1991 by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute with the purpose of challenging violence against women and girls. Thousands of organisations and many countries began to participate in the campaign every year. The campaign runs from the 25 November to the 10 December, each year with its own theme.
Women, children and the elderly have been subjects of violence in South Africa and a substantial number of these cases don’t get reported. Some of the reasons for this is:
- victims get manipulated into believing that their abusers are justified in abusing them;
- loss of respect and confidence in the law and the justice system based on several cases where perpetrators have been released and not prosecuted;
- some people live in rural arears where there are very little resources and perpetrators take advantage of their ignorance and poverty; and
- the economic state of our country and poverty. It is not uncommon for perpetrators to “negotiate themselves” out of being reported by offering to pay some sort of compensation (damages) to the family.
Abuse takes difference forms, the most common types being physical, sexual and emotional abuse. According to the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), there is a growing number of women who get killed by their partners or ex-partners. This occurs in South Africa more than in any other country.
There has been a series of news about the death of women who were killed by their partners this year alone, including the deaths of Karabo Mokoena, Anelisa Dulaze, and the recent killing of Dibuseng Moss-Chiliza who was shot and killed by her husband at the Durban Magistrates Court while trying to divorce him.
The object that the campaign intends to achieve is to:
- Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children, hence the theme: Count me in.
- Expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster to include all government clusters and provinces.
- Use technology, social media, culture, business and activism to draw attention to the ways in which domestic violence affects the lives of many around the world.
- Promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
- Create the awareness of domestic violence being a societal issue and in some way encourage the change of behaviour of possible perpetrators.
Any person can participate in the campaign and show support by wearing the red ribbon during the 16 day period. Victims of abuse must feel supported and should have no fear of speaking out about their abusers.
FAMSA has offices nationwide and gives counselling to the abused and families: 011 975 7101 or visit their website www.famsa.org.za.
Lifeline provides 24-hour counselling services. Call the SA National Counselling Line on 0861 322 322.
POWA provides telephonic, counselling and legal support to women experiencing abuse. POWA also accompanies women to court and assists them in filling out documents. The POWA helpline is on 083 765 1235 or visit www.powa.co.za.
Legal Aid South Africa offers legal assistance. To locate your nearest Justice Centre, call 0861 053 425 or visit www.legal-aid.co.za.
Rape Crisis offers free confidential counselling to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Call 011 642 4345.
Any person can apply for a protection order at the nearest Magistrates Court (Domestic Violence Court) to where they live or work at any time and even on weekends. You will start by applying for an interim protection order by filing a Form 6 which will take effect immediately. You can thereafter apply for Protection Order by completing Form 2 and which is done by way of an affidavit. The Clerk of the court will then send the papers to the Magistrate who will set a date for the hearing. After the court appearance, the court may grant the protection order.
We all must take a stand to eradicate violence against women and children by participating in the campaign and speaking out. We must support victims, to enable them to stand up for themselves. Each victim that is silent places their lives and others in more danger by being silent. Communities must also speak out when they witness acts of violence in their communities so that those who do not have courage can be assisted.