In 1991, the Women’s Global Leadership Insitute promoted the first 16 Days of Activism against abuse. Subsequently, a number of countries around the world acknowledge this period and hold anti-abuse campaigns. Furthermore, the period is important to highlight gender-based violence (GBV). Importantly, South Africa has a high incidence of GBV and activists utilise this period to call for stronger sentencing, more reporting and better policing of crimes against women.
16 days of activism is insufficient
Undoubtedly, the 16 days of activism are important. Dangerously, the subject appears unnoticed outside of the 16 days per year. Technically, GBV requires 365 days’ attention from police, government, the social department, justice department, celebrities and educators. Furthermore, Professor Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State worries that the 16 days are also largely ignored in South Africa. Understandably, year-end educational exams dominate in almost every family at this time of year. Additionally, many families are focusing on the annual pilgrimages to home or away from home for the Christmas break.
Ironically, the Christmas which distracts from the activism period, brings, for many South African’s, an increase in GBV. Moreover, President Ramaphosa likens GBV to a South African pandemic as serious as COVID-19. However, incidences continue, seemingly unabated. Worryingly, Professor Petersen raises concerns that the nation is not taking it seriously enough.
COVID-19 demanded drastic action
President Ramaphosa implementing drastic, and even draconian measures against COVID-19 seem quite effective. Importantly, similar measures need formulating to stop the danger SA women face on a daily basis. Inexplicably, the courts themselves appear soft on perpetrators. Especially, but not restricted to, the men politically connected. Sadly, one has to ask – where is the justice and protection for the victims?
Twitterati shocked at court leniency
A case in point is the ANC MEC accused of r*ping his twin daughters. Moreover, the ANC, a party allegedly upholding equal rights and respect for women, have reappointed the man as a member of the Provincial Executive Committee. Importantly, for every woman suffering abuse, this is a slap in the face. Undoubtedly, it is also a time for ANC men to offer a warm handshake, a friendly back slap of welcome back into the untouchable ranks.
Not every man is bad
Fortunately, South African women have a few gladiators in their corner. Thankfully, Springbok rugby player, Makazole Mapimpi is one such man. Hopefully, this man and his fellow celebrities impact on the current attitudes. Meanwhile, one placard outside parliament states “Being a woman in South Africa is to already have one foot in the grave.” Time for this pandemic to receive urgent attention, Mr. President.
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