From 25 November until the 10 December 2012, our country and the world will be observing the 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women and Children. The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is a United Nations campaign, which takes place annually from the 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).
2012 marks the 13th anniversary of the national campaign which began in 1999. The theme for this year is: "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!" As a sub-theme, South Africa will also focus on the theme for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW): "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and children". The campaign strapline remains: Don’t Look Away – Act Against Abuse".
Militarisation and violence is a major challenge particularly in regions affected by conflict. Domestic violence becomes even more deadly when guns – legal or illegal – are present in the home, because they can be used to threaten, injure or kill women and children. Indeed, women are three times more likely to die violently if there is a gun in the house.
The 16 Days of Activism Campaign focuses primarily on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children as well as society as a whole. The campaign further seeks to address issues that affect vulnerable groups (women, girls and boys, (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-sexual and Intersex (LGBTI) communities, people with disabilities, etc.) such as sexual harassment, rape, cultural practices that are harmful to women and children (ukuthwala, child muthi killings, witchcraft burning), etc.
Whilst there are programmes and interventions to prevent and respond to the abuse, government cannot do this alone and therefore depends on mutual partnerships with non-governmental organisations, business, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders, political parties, various sectors of society and communities. Success of the 16 Days of Activism campaign is dependent on the partnership between government and various sectors of society including the media.
The reality that we must collectively confront is the reluctance on the part of some victims of violence to come forward and seek legal advice and social support. This could be due to a lack of knowledge of their rights, the social stigma around domestic violence or the inaccessibility for rural women of police and courts.
The programme of the sixteen days campaign starts with the opening event on Sunday in Kimberly, Northern Cape. The closing event for the 16 Days Campaign will be held in Rustenburg, North West on December 10. Other important dates during this period include the Siyahlola Campaign which is led by President Jacob Zuma on the 4th of December in Mpumalanga, the launch of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on the 10th of December in the North West, as well as the Gender-Based Violence Summit on the 26th and 27th of November 2012.
Various government departments, provinces and civil society organisation have organised various activities to raise awareness around campaign. We will continue to partner with various media organisations to ensure that we highlight the need to act against abuse of women and children. The call to action is for all of us to work together to reduce the number of sexual offences, attacks and murder of women and children in our country.
I thank you.