We need to go beyond 16 Days of Activism

Albert Fritz, MEC for Community Safety

This year has shown us, through numerous gruesome attacks on women and children, and the robust fightback against it, that there is a need to go “Beyond 16 Days of Activism”.

Each year we celebrate Women’s Day on August 9 and commemorate the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign between November 25 and December 10. Yet, soon after and even while we generate the much-needed awareness, there is another high-profile case of woman and child abuse. We cannot stand for this.

While these commemorative periods are important in raising awareness of gender-based violence and femicide, our efforts to eradicate these social ills should not be confined to a certain time or space. This means that as good citizens we must constantly be educating our young boys on how to be respectful towards women. We must teach our young girls that abuse is not acceptable and is not love. We must support our shelters and empower, where we can, victims of domestic violence. We must report gender-based violence where it becomes apparent to us.

There is an incontrovertible link between the unacceptably high murder rate in this province and interpersonal violence. Many women and children are killed by people they know. As premier Alan Winde has indicated through the provincial safety plan, provincial government aims to halve the murder rate over the next 10 years.

There is a critical connection between this objective and ensuring that the fight against woman and child abuse and violence be extended beyond a mere 16-day annual campaign. Only by fighting the scourge of gender-based violence at all levels of society, in a consistent and integrated manner, will we eradicate all forms of interpersonal violence against women and children.

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism campaign, my department will hold seven education and awareness events. The programme will be hosted in Gugulethu, Strandfontein, Ocean View, Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Hanover Park and Khayelitsha to spread further awareness and directly tackle gender-based violence and femicide. I further support the provincial government’s initiative to run a 365 days of activism campaign.

Recognising that it is not enough to have these events over the 16 Days of Activism alone, my department facilitates a Domestic Violence Act Compliance Forum throughout the province, all year long. The aim of the forum is to address how
SAPS and the City of Cape Town’s Metro police can remain compliant with the act and SAPS National Instruction 7/1999. Ultimately, this ensures that police can competently and efficiently respond to cases of domestic violence, in turn safeguarding our women and children.

The provincial government has a number of initiatives in place to ensure the safety of our women and children in the form of shelters for victims of abuse and trauma counselling.

More information on these shelters can be found by accessing the provincial Department of Social Development’s website.