11 December 2014
Men were critical partners in the fight against the abuse of women and children, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said at the closing event of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
Mabudafhasi encouraged people who abused their partners or children to seek help.”We need to speak out against violence and report it to the police. We, who are mothers, need to bring up our sons to respect women.”
16 Days is an annual global campaign that runs from 25 November to 10 December. The theme this year was, “Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.
“We need to interrogate and understand what is making women vulnerable to gender- based violence and the institutionalised violence of poverty and inequality, as well as what is preventing women from enjoying human rights,” Mabudafhasi said.
Since 1994, South Africa’s government had developed several pieces of legislation to redress the wrongs affecting women and children.
“We must understand how our own attitudes and actions might perpetuate sexism and violence. We must ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate sexual and violent material,” said.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega called on South African men and women to partner with the police in the fight against crime.
“Together we can make a difference because we strongly believe . that somebody somewhere, somehow knows something about crime.”
She encouraged people to report crime to the police.
United Nations Population Fund representative Dr Ester Muia encouraged people to respect each other. “We need to look at what is causing the problem of violence.”
A study undertaken in Gauteng showed that three out of every five women had experienced violence, she said. This figure was unacceptable and it was high time the country engaged men in the fight against the abuse of women and children.
Meanwhile, Susan Shabangu, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, said the campaign had created much-needed awareness.
Shabangu was speaking at business briefing hosted by The New Age newspaper in Sandton, Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.
The campaign should take place throughout the year to contribute to reducing violence directed at women and children, she said.
She also called on more men to get actively involved in the campaign, pointing out that gender-based violence was becoming more brutal.
“Even children are being killed so brutally. Something has gone wrong in our communities. All of us need to get involved in fighting abuse.”
Children need to be taught from a young age to denounce violence, and women in rural areas must be empowered and know their rights.
“Women in rural areas must be brought on board and be part of the campaign. We must make sure that we break the silence. People should be encouraged to talk to prevent heinous crimes from happening.”
Regarding the prosecution of perpetrators, Shabangu said role players in the justice system must deal effectively with issues relating to violence and the abuse of women and children. “Our justice system must make sure that our people believe in the system.”
This year, 16 Days marked its 16th anniversary, reflected on 20 years of democracy and 60 years of the Women’s Charter.