Address by Director-General Vusumuzi Mkhize on the occasion of the Launch of Orange Day Campaign and 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children
The history of the 16 days of Activism of no violence Against women and Children originates from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute. “16 Days”, as it has become known, was launched and continue to be coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership.
The 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign is an annual, United Nations (UN) endorsed awareness-raising Campaign that begins on the 25th of November and runs through until the 10th of December. South Africa adopted the Campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence. Recognizing that violence against women and children persisted, the Campaign was broadened to encompass a year-long integrated national plan of action to eliminate violence against women and children.
Safer Spaces (2021) states that “GBV occurs as a result of normative role expectations and unequal power relationships between genders in a society. There are many different definitions of GBV, but it can be broadly defined as “the general term used to capture violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between genders, within the context of a specific society.”
In the continent of Africa, we have seen wars between states and internal conflict in some instances. Indeed, what is clear is that women and children do not start these wars but they are the most affected. (International Federation for Human Rights; 25 November 2020) states that “gender-based violence is prevalent in times of peace and conflict, and is directly tied to the structural inequalities between genders, in particular the domination of men over women. Despite its widespread nature, very few victims receive the protection, recognition, or justice they need.”
Over the years South Africa has demonstrated that it has strong genealogy of female leadership from our traditional to our modern leaders who in 1956 marched to the union buildings against the “pass” laws that the apartheid regime imposed on black people. They marched against the violation of human rights in South Africa and called for democratic change. It is my opinion that we do not want to see women march again because “wathinta abafazi wathinta imbokodo”
To this end, it is high time that women pass the baton to men to March against GBV. In his weekly letter, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that “Men should be playing a more formative and present role in their families, particularly in raising their sons to exhibit healthy, positive masculinity that is respectful of women and children.”
Recently, the South African Police Services released crime statistics which are alarming to anyone with conscience. In just three months, between July and September 2021, 9,556 people, most of whom were women, were raped. This is 7% more than in the previous reporting period. Of the nearly 73,000 assault cases reported during this period, more than 13,000 were domestic violence-related. The rate of child murders has climbed by nearly a third compared to the previous
Programme Director, we, men were ashamed to see a young 26-year-old man being accused of killing and storing body parts in a freezer of a woman at Protea Glen in Soweto. I was shocked to my marrow when I recently learned about Nosicelo Mtebeni. A bright LLB Student from the University of Fort Hare where her remains were found dismembered in a suitcase, while other body parts were found in a plastic bag inside a house at Quigney in East London.
It is not my intention to cause apprehension and panic, but programme director I just thought that as a country we need to highlight these atrocities so that the victims of gender-based violence do not die in vain. Today we want to say enough is enough to gender-based violence and femicide
In addition, I would like to light a candle which serves as a Torch of Peace. The torch of peace provides the link between the 16 Days of Activism campaign and the other major national campaigns, such as World Aids Day, International Day of Person’s with Disability and International Human Rights Day. It is further in remembrance of the victims and survivors of the various forms of abuse.
With the powers vested in me as the Director-General of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, I now declare the 16 Days of Activism of no violence Against women and children launched!!!