Opinion piece on 16 days of activism against women and children

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Compiled by: Ntuthuko Manzini

The 16 days of activism is an annual campaign to raise awareness on the scourge of violence on women and children. It is without any doubt that the campaign is critical for any nation including South Africa on its fight against violence on women and children. What is more disturbing and astonishing is the fact that on an annual basis pronouncements and comments are made by those in positions of authority to condemn any behavior which attempts or is driven by dehumanizing women and children and somehow rip them of their constitutional rights for an example to life, dignity and so forth. What has been on the public domain in relation to violence on women and children for an example the rape of a six-week old infant for a lack of a harsh word to use than rape?

Such cases are being heard on weekly, monthly and yearly basis, but the problem is that most institutions which are supposed to effectively deal with such atrocities from the gender fraternity utilize such platforms to gain public confidence by uttering statements of condemnation rather than putting forth substantive measures in dealing with the latter scourge. In honest fact some of the pronouncements and decisions taken at a political level to be implemented at administrative level become detrimental to the entire population. An example of this is that there is a tendency of rationalizing any act of abuse by applying sophisticated measures where in some instances perpetrators with all evidence before a court of law has a constitutional right to legal representation with the possibility of being acquitted if evidence is not sufficient.

Contrary to the above is the fact that to a lesser extent people have heeded with a sense of ignorance in clearly articulating the intention behind the 16 days. This is based on evidence I have gathered over the years wherein there is gross misinterpretation of the 16 days which is mainly influenced by circumstances such as the level of education, social environment, preoccupation with imposed cultural beliefs and practices. Most men in rural areas have articulated the view that they can only beat women on any day outside the 16 days. It is critical and of utmost importance that the focus should be on daily lives of human beings. One would wonder the role and significance of the media in dismantling the misconception around the 16 days. From a profit making point of view, it seems the media only targets stories of abuse of women and children during days such as 16 days rather than throughout.

One other dimension of my contention is to what extent are institutions within the gender fraternity embarking on a reflection process in refining their objectives and approach if violence is escalating at an exponential level. Some feel that the death sentence or castration should be considered and employed in mitigating the scourge of violence. I doubt with a degree of authority that if such is effected, will positively yield the anticipated results in mitigating the scourge. The contrary point of departure within institutions operating on the gender fraternity is to deal with opportunism as one will hear that after the 10th of December there will be silence, and it will commence again on the 25 November 2014.

In conclusion violence whether on heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals should be considered a human rights’ issue and should always be accorded the necessary attention throughout human life not on days like 16 days which are normally being used to gain public points. It is also critical that the gender fraternity institutions whether inside or outside government refrain from rhetorism and start to act in a manner that will compel those in positions of authority to recognize the seriousness of violence not only on women and children but on everybody through stayaways, closing down of main roads, highways and bringing South Africa to a standstill.

Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)