Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN's Global Goals call for an end to violence against women and girls. And yet, in South Africa, rates of harassment, rape, and other types of gender-based violence are on the rise. Join us by taking action here to raise you voice and call for an end to the violence. 

South Africa has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world — which is one of the key reasons the South African government has united with Chapter 9 Institutions to come together for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Chapter 9 Institutions reportedly include the Public Protector, the Auditor-General, the Electoral Commission, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality, and the Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious, and Linguistic Communities.

Take Action: Ask Local Media Houses to Serve as the Megaphone to Help End Gender-Based Violence in South Africa

These institutions which are free from government interference will work assist the government in making sure that the fight against abuse is won.

As 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence gets underway, which runs from November 25 to December 10, the government has said it urges citizens to unite in combating gender-based violence.

The 16 Days of Activism launched on Sunday, with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The campaign also incorporates Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day.

“Women’s movement mobilisation and activism have reminded us of the strength in unity,” said the government’s statement. “It is only when we unite across race, class, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, and political parties that we can achieve the end goal of total emancipation of women.”

The international awareness day, which drives campaigns forward around the world, is part of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women which was issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

According to the United Nations (UN), the declaration defines gender abuse as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

The UN said it was important for citizens to unite to take action, as violence against women and girls has had devastating effects on human rights globally.

“Widespread, persistent, and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding it,” the organisation said.

And the South African government adopted the UN campaign in 1998, as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence, according to the government.

In August this year, Brand South Africa said in a statement that the campaign is meant to make citizens aware of the social ills that continue to be plaque the country — such as femicide, women abuse, children abuse, and the abuse of vulnerable groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.

The 2017/2018 statistics for gender-based violence were released by Stats SA in June this year, and are attributed as the reasons for South African government’s call for more stringent ways to protect these vulnerable groups, according to the government.

The report stated that the murder rate for women increased drastically by 117% between 2015 and 2016/17. While Africa Check disputed this claim, it added that it was true to say South Africa’s femicide rate is five times higher than the global rate.

Meanwhile, according to Stats SA, rape, specifically targeting women and girls, is viewed as a serious problem in South Africa.

“The 2016/17 Victims of Crime statistical release reported that 250 out of every 100,000 women were victims of sexual offences, compared to 120 out of every 100,000 men,” said the statistical service organisation.

Bathabile Dlamini, the South African minister of women in the presidency, highlighted silence in communities as a key barrier in tackling the scourge of gender-based violence.

Dlamini said the department will also adopt the UN’s #HearMeToo campaign, which aims to break all forms of silence against all abuses and violence against women.

“The #HearMeToo theme symbolises a collective appeal to society, to hear women’s pains and demands against gender-based violence,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said the #HearMeToo campaign is also a call to action to all victims, survivors, witnesses, and all other affected – to continue to speak up about and against any forms of violence.

“It is only when we collectively speak against this scourge that we can hope to completely end it,” she said.

The department said one of the ways it has assisted victims or survivors is by establishing a 24-hour contact centre.

“The government has opened a gender-based violence command centre where victims of violence can call in and seek professional help or advice from social workers who are available 24 hours,” said the department.

The aim of the centre is to help and support all those who want to speak up against violence.

Victims, survivors, and witnesses can send a request for a phone call to *120*7867#, or click here for links to other resources, including the presidential hotline.

According to UN Women, the issue of gender-based violence can also be ended by providing education tools like a curriculum that will teach young people how they can play a part in preventing and ending violence against women and girls in schools.

The organisation said the government can work with young boys too, through workshops to teach them how to treat women and change their behaviour toward women and girls.

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Demand Equity

16 Days of Activism Sees South Africans Unite to End Gender-Based Violence

By Thato Mahlangu