Yes, we can reduce violence in our country

white ribbon
Reduce Violence – Every great social movement of our time began with the fight for an ideal.  The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and abroad was fueled by a profound need to end decades of racial discrimination and to see the birth of a democratic nation.  The civil rights movement in the US sought to end segregation.

Both these movements have come to signify the triumph of justice, humanity and tolerance over discrimination. Both had humble beginnings and only burgeoned into unstoppable behemoths with the march of time.

Our triumphant march to democracy in 1994 was only achieved because of often untold sacrifice by hundreds of thousands of ordinary South Africans. What emerged from the dark depths of apartheid was a society committed to democracy, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Our commitment to gender equality is one of the founding principles of our new society and is a core right of the Constitution. In an ideal world the Constitution and our unwavering commitment to the rights of women and children would have been enough to ensure an end to violence against women and children.

Sadly, our Constitution, legislation and institutional mechanisms such as the Specialised Sexual Offences Courts; Thuthuzela Care Centres; Family, Child and Sexual Offences Units and Domestic Violence Courts have not fully stemmed violence against women and children.

When searching for answers to this continuing sad reality many things should be taken into account.  We dare not forget the trauma which stems from our violent past. The apartheid state used violence as its primary instrument of control and not even women and children were spared.

This culture of violence still runs through our proverbial veins like a cancer.

However, all is not lost and just as cancer can be beaten; there is hope that we can drastically reduce the incidence of violence against women and children in our lifetime.

The collective social movement to end the scourge began 16 years ago when the first 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign was held in South Africa.  Just as apartheid was not defeated in a day, the battle to stop violence against women and children has been a long time coming.

With every passing year more men have become involved and have begun to raise their collective voices.  This year’s slogan for the campaign which runs until December 10 is: “Count Me In: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.

President Jacob Zuma launched the campaign on Tuesday, November 25 at the WJ Clements Stadium in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni.

The call to #CountMein is a powerful one and government strongly believes that it will find resonance with many people.   Everyone has a role to play in raising our collective voice during #16Days2014.

Together our combined efforts can bring an end to the scourge of violence against women and children; just as apartheid was defeated by a collective groundswell of popular resistance.

However, if this is to become a reality the call to #CountMein must be more than just merely another hashtag on social media.

To truly be counted in will require a change from all of us. No longer can we look away from what often takes place on our own doorsteps.  The reality is that violence and abuse against women and children is not perpetrated by vile monsters; but by our neighbours, friends and even us.

The time for change is now; together we can use the 16 Days Campaign to call on all sectors of society to stand up and be counted as part of the solution to eradicate gender-based violence.

Let us raise our collective voices in our 20th Year of Freedom and 60 years after the adoption of the historic Women’s Charter.

Support the campaign by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period; a white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises the commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.

Participate in the 16 Days of Activism events and activities which are taking place. It is within our hands to have a society in which we do not read or hear about the abuse that women and children often suffer at the hands of heartless perpetrators.

By being counted in we pledge to be the change we want to see.

Count Me In: I will protect my sister.

Count Me In: I care for the safety of women and children.

Count Me In: I am cool, I do not bully.

Count Me In: I do not punch others. –