Contributed by Fawzia Khan an attorney in Umhlanga, Durban
The 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children runs from 25 November to 10 December 2019. This international campaign started in 1991. In South Africa, due to high number of crimes which fall under the gender based violence category (GBV), we have as a nation become numbed when hearing of a person who has become yet another victim of this scourge within our society.
Domestic violence includes physical violence such as murder, robbery, rape, assault, as well as verbal, emotional and psychological violence. The government acknowledges that poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives. It says that “another terrible blight of our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children”. Whether or not we believe that the government is doing enough to curb the rising tide of gender based violence, we can as civil society play a role in taking a stand and condemning these heinous acts.
The theme for this year’s campaign is Count me in. According to its website the government of South Africa encourages us to do the following in helping root out GBV. Firstly, support the campaign by wearing the red ribbon during the 16-day period and participate in the various 16 Days of Activism events and activities in your area.
Secondly, become a volunteer in support of NGOs and community groups who support abused women and children: Many organisations need assistance from the public. You can volunteer your time and make a contribution to the work of institutions. Help plant a garden at a shelter, sponsor plastic tables and chairs for kids at a clinic or join an organisation as a counsellor.
Thirdly, use your skills and knowledge to help the victims of abuse. Encourage silent female victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
Fourthly, report child abuse to the police. Encourage children to report bully behaviour to school authorities. Men and boys are encouraged to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour. Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline (0800 150 150).
Fifthly talk to friends, relatives and colleagues to take a stand against abuse of women and children. Try and understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate sexism and violence. Spread the message on social media using.
Lastly join community policing forums (CPFs), where the community and the local police stations have active partnerships in ensuring local safety and security. The goal is to bring about effective crime prevention by launching intelligence-driven crime-prevention projects in partnership with the local community. You may want to also become a reservist, a member of the community who volunteers his/her services and time to support local policing efforts to fight crime. For more information on how to join, contact your local police station.
Know your rights! The Law Desk of Fawzia Khan and Associates. Giving YOU the Power of Attorney. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 031-5025670 for legal assistance at competitive rates.