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The 16 days of activism: what’s it all about?


The 16 days of activism: what’s it all about?

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Imagine if, for 16 days, there were no rape, no child abuse, no sexual harassment, no emotional abuse. A rape case is reported in South Africa every fourteen minutes, every hour and a quarter a woman or child is indecently assaulted, and every two hours a case of child neglect is reported.

This should surely be more than enough reason for concern, and more than enough reason for everyone to get involved in whatever programme aims to eradicate this monster. The 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children campaign challenges South Africans to declare a truce on violence against the vulnerable in our society – and, ultimately, to make it a permanent one.

This campaign is an international campaign and originates from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

In 1998, South Africa signed on to an international awareness drive called the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. Although the global campaign focuses on violence against women only, South Africa added children to its campaign because of the high incidence of child abuse in the country.

The campaign kicks off on 25 November, International Day for No Violence Against Women, and will celebrate its closure on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

The annual campaign has several goals, according to the government:

  • To encourage all South Africans to help eradicate violence against women and children
  • To combine technology, social media, the arts, journalism, religion, culture, business and activism in a bid to highlight the many ways in which violence devastates women and children
  • To encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is a social, rather than governmental, problem
  • To encourage collective responsibility within communities to tackle violence against women and children
  • To expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster to include all government clusters and provinces

Every year the campaign popularises the white ribbon as a symbol of personal and organisational commitment to the eradication of violence against women and children. The white ribbon symbolises the commitment of the wearer to “never commit or condone violence against the vulnerable, and to speak out about violence where they see it”.

What can you do?

There are many ways to support the campaign. You can: wear a white ribbon for the 16-day period; volunteer at an NGO or community group; report child abuse to the police; encourage children to report bullying; encourage victims to speak out; and spread the message on social networks.

Reporting domestic violence

Keep these numbers handy, and use them wisely:

  • SAPS Crime Stop 08600 10111
  • Gender-Based Violence Command Centre 0800 428428
  • STOP Gender Violence Helpline 0800 150150
  • Suicide Crisis Line 0800 567 567
  • Crisis Line 0861 574747
  • SA National Council for Child Welfare 011 339 5741
  • Human Trafficking 08000 737283 or 082 4553664


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