16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children

#16DaysOfActivism: moving beyond campaigning and into action

NGOs, society thought leaders and citizens engaged on the subject of moving beyond just campaigning over 16 days and towards action in addressing the plight of women and child abuse. Speaking to Redi Tlhabi, Jabu Tugwana of POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) unpacked this:

If we're talking about 16 days of activism as a strategy of ending gender-based violence, then 16 days of activism is just a blunt tool because it has limited impact. But we do see more women do coming forward to report more incidents of abuse during these 16 days and also over Women's Month, but it doesn't have a long-term impact in addressing this issue.

Founding Director of Sonke Gender Justice, Dean Peacock:

16 days is an important period wherein we mark our commitment, but the days are insufficient because they are merely symbolic and we need concerted effort at the community level.

Executive Director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, Nondumiso Nsibande, looks at the issues relating to the prosecution of abusers:

It starts from the police service and prosecutors. It is important for us to be sensitised around gender-based violence. What we find is that often times, survivors are turned away by police, and are told these are private matters, when it comes to domestic violence, for instance.

Researcher at the WITS Institute for Social and Economic Research, Lisa Vetten suggests some steps forward to improve the campaign:

One of the difficulties is that it is very institutionalised (the campaign) and when something is institutionalised, it no longer has a level of novelty that will make people sit up and listen. This year's campaign for instance pushes the idea that 'men shouldn't hit women because men are women's protectors': that is a very conservative notion and is often the kind of thinking that puts a lot of women into very vulnerable positions. This is unchallenging messaging and they conform with a particular gender stereotype messaging and we need to move away from this.


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