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16 Days Campaign draws to a close

by Bathandwa Mbola and Gabi Khumalo
on 09 Dec 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign will today draw to a close at an event in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape.

President Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to address community members, abuse survivors, former abusers, and others gathered at the Mlungisi township sports centre.

For 16 days, South Africans have been challenged to do their part in ending violence against women and children and received a heightened awareness of the negative impact of violence.

Government, together with various organisations dealing with victims of abuse, perpetrators of abuse, battered women, men and children, partnered together during the 16 day period, to stand united against violence perpetrated against women and children and promote the rights of victims and survivors.

The Free State Provincial Treasury will today, mark the closing of the campaign, by donating underwear to rape victims at the Gateway Clinic at the National District Hospital.

While in Johannesburg, prosecutors and police officers from seven police stations in Gauteng packed the streets of Johannesburg early this morning to march through the streets to show their support for the campaign.

Speaking to BuaNews police Inspector Lorraine van Emmerik said while the march aimed to show support for the victims, they also wanted to encourage them to come forward and report abuse.

"We want to assist them and one of the messages is to encourage them not to be scared, we need them to come forward and report the abuse so that we can be able to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators," said Inspector Emmerik.

This year, the campaign focussed on generating more awareness on the negative impact of violence on women and children at grass roots level. Programmes have been implemented directly and physically in communities - taking the campaign to the people in the rural areas and across all the provinces.

The Torch of Peace has been burning at the Union Buildings throughout the 16-day period, symbolising the fight to end violence against women and children.

The Deputy Minister for Provincial and Local Government, Nomatyala Hangana, lit the torch on 25 November to officially launch the campaign. At the time, she said societal awareness about problems such as child abuse; domestic violence as well as violence against women in general have increased considerably.

According to a study done by the Government Communications and Information System (GCSI) last year, found that about 33 percent of South Africans were aware of the 16 Days Campaign compared to the 16 percent in 2003.

However, violence against women and children is still prevalent in South Africa, despite the country having a world-celebrated Constitution and legislation that safeguards women's and children's rights.

Crime trends released in June 2008 indicated that social crimes were still a major concern. These crimes are mostly committed within households, between victims and perpetrators who know each other. Government has stepped up calls to encourage the active reporting of abuse.

The campaign was first launched in 1999 as part of government efforts to rally citizens against the high levels of violence directed at women and children, which has been prevalent in the communities.

Among the objectives of the campaign is to uphold the rights of citizens and restore the dignity of the most vulnerable members of society.

The major goal of the campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges posed by societal attitudes and practices that continue to perpetuate gender based violence and child abuse. - BuaNews


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