25 November 2018 marked the first day of the 16 Days of Activism which aims to raise awareness around gender-based violence and to urge South Africans to stop the violence against women and children.
According to an EWN.co.za report by Thando Kubheka, Bathabile Dlamini, the minister responsible for women, announced that government has partnered with Chapter Nine Institutions (organisations in charge of guarding our democracy like the Public Protector) and civil society groups to fight the scourge of women abuse in the country.
The theme for this year's campaign, which runs until 10 December every year, is #HearMeToo, converging with the global #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns that have been running for over a year now. As with the latter hashtags around gender-based violence, women are encouraged, through the next 16 Days of Activism and beyond, to share their stories of violence and survival.
Until recently, the #MeToo and TimesUp movements seemed to apply mostly to women in American and European communities; however there has been a significant rise in women sharing their personal stories of abuse and survival locally, regardless of the ineffectiveness of law enforcement officials in ensuring our safety.
Following the case of Cheryl Zondi; the Total Shutdown that took place on the first of August; and the stories that were shared during the Presidential Summit against Gender-based Violence and Femicide, more and more South African women are coming forward to not only have their voices heard but to demand that justice be granted to all victims.
"The purpose of this year’s theme," according to an article in TheSouthAfrican.com, "is to highlight the varied nature of gender-based violence, as well as the far-reaching effect it has on survivors." Yet, even in the wake of women sharing their experiences, their reports need to be equally met by practical solutions to their issues and by effective justice against perpetrators.
The timing of the theme is opportune given the gravity of the cases of violence against women in the country as well as globally, and we expect that the government and the country's law enforcement services will take action against violence as much as women bravely report it - not only in the course of the next several days, but consistently on all days going forward.
Here are a few articles on the reality of gender-based violence and the help available in South Africa:
Watch below: Lesley Ncube, from the Total Shutdown movement, discusses the 16 Days of Activism
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