16 Days of Activism of no Violence against Women and Children: “Time to reflect, rethink and restrategise to stimulate action to end and prevent Violence against Women”.
It is yet again the 16 Days of Activism of no violence against Women and Children. The ideal time to reflect on progress, achievements and challenges still faced in the effort to prevent and end violence against women. The period presents an opportunity to critically consider the position of women and girls in society, their state of security, safety and freedom in a democratic South Africa. The intention of reflecting being to stimulate action to end violence against women and girls globally.
The year 2016 began collecting scary statistics of violence against women. New Year’s Day Zestah September was allegedly brutally killed and maimed by her boyfriend. He allegedly spend New Year’s Day with her family and also helped the family search for her. Amber Amour was allegedly raped by a friend while sharing a shower with him and she is blamed for sharing a shower with a friend and blamed for her choice of platform for sharing her pain. The appeal to the murder case of Reeva Steenkamp did not hail a good precedence on matters of violence against women. The Katlehong matter of Mpho a People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) client, whose matter dragged in court for 10 years did to bring a deterring judgement to intimate partner violence perpetrators. The young women in South African universities continued being vulnerability as the fees must fall struggle continue, they are kidnapped, rape and murdered within the premises of the school that are assumed to be safe. The girl child in our primary and high schools are also part of the sexual violence statistics and this is often perpetrated step fathers and male relatives in their families, making it difficult for them to report it or even be believed when they do.
WHAT IS THE KEY PROBLEM? Nothing seems to have changed for the good for women and survivors of violence. Cases of brutal killing of women and attempted murder subsequent to intimate partner violence are continually alarming and this raises concerns as to where the problem is. In the context of South Africa that has a conducive legal framework, can we only attribute this to improper implementation of the laws on violence against women and girls? Can it be the attitudes of the law enforcement agencies when dealing with violence against women and girls? Can this be owed to our history of conflict during the apartheid era? Are all the responsible sectors doing enough? Do we need to rethink our strategies once again? Are we to blame our communities (that we are part of) for normalizing violence against women? Or the problem lies with women or men? WHAT IS THE KEY PROBLEM?
It is interesting to note that, the key question arises from the subject of domestic violence, an area that has fairly been researched to find the causes, traits, and preventative measures to address the problem. Some of the recommended preventative measures from the studies were implemented, monitored and evaluated with an intention of bringing about change. However the statistics of domestic violence keep on rising and sadly lead to death. Women continue losing the sense of security that they use to have when they are engaged in intimate relationships, rather an intimate relationship seems to be a death risk. Is love the problem? WHAT IS THE KEY PROBLEM?
One of the key challenges in preventing and ending violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. In 2016, the campaign strongly needs to emphasise the need for sustainable financing for efforts towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a specific target on ending violence against women and girls offer promise, however such initiatives need adequate funding in order to change the situation of women and girls.
The UN Secretary General’s call for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in 2016 is “Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls”. This presents an opportunity to focus on sustainable financing for initiatives to address violence against women.
While we reflect upon the question, it is important for women in intimate relationships to break the cycle of abuse. We need to be on the lookout for any RED FLAGS (signs) of abuse that our partners may have. For a gun or any dangerous weapon to be used against you one day, it will have certainly begun at a stage where the abuse seemed moderate and tolerable, however we need to act on it and not ignore it. The law is also there for us to utilize to our advantage, but we need to make a decision to break the cycle of abuse and speak out to bring about change.
By Palesa Mpapa
Legal & Advocacy Manager
People Opposing Women Abuse