The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is an international campaign. It runs every year from 25 November to 10 December. This time period also includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day. What does this all mean?
The South African Government runs a campaign for 16 days to create awareness on the negative impact of violence against women and children and to act against the abuse. During this time awareness is created and the focus is on women and children. It is known that the statistics for abuse rise during this time of the campaign. We create awareness on the abuse and it could possibly be either the abuse increases due to the fact that men feel disempowered during this time and in order to regain power they abuse their women and children or it could be that women and children are more aware of the abuse and decide to stand up for themselves and report the abuse. Men are also exposed to violence but they do not necessarily report the violence. Many of the effects of abuse for the male victim of domestic violence are the same as for women. They are likely to feel deeply shamed, frightened, experience a loss of self-worth and confidence, feel isolated, guilty and confused about the situation. It’s very difficult for a victim of abuse to step forward and talk about their hidden pain and hurt experienced. Children exposed to abuse are more likely to have difficulty sharing that they are being abused as the perpetrator typically forms part of the family system or a well-known family friend. Child abuse has a tremendous effect on a child, physically and emotionally. We read articles in newspapers of children killed due to violence and abuse. Child murders are increasing tremendously in South Africa and there is a significant link to abuse.
It is imperative for us as a community to stand together and work against the violence against women and children. We need to report incidences of violence or abuse, support a friend or family member in an abusive relationship, raise children to respect others, lead by example and speak up against messages that say violence/abuse is ok. We need to work together as South Africa to fight against the abuse- all sectors, organisations and community members. We need to know that Violence is everyone’s problem- and we need to fix it.
Marisa Harris & Nombeko Nqweniso
Victim Empowerment and family counsellors