16 Days of Activism is upon us – a time to come up with solutions to South Africa’s gender-based violence crisis.

Violence against women and children has many forms, including physical violence, emotional violence and the violence of poverty. The South African Government stated, “Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives”.

South Africa is infamous for our rape and murder statistics. A report by StatsSA in 2018 estimates that from 2016 to 2017, 250 out of every 100 000 women were victims of sexual offences. And these are only the reported cases! Download this report here.

Then, according to an Africa Check report, in the case of murder, over half of women who are murdered every year are killed by their boyfriends or husbands. Read this here.

Violence stems from various socio-economic issues as well the beliefs we as individuals consider. According to the World Health Organisation, “… attitudes that condone violence (perpetration); community norms that privilege or ascribe higher status to men and lower status to women…”, all contribute towards acts of violent behaviour. See the WHO report here.

The StatsSA report included the results of a survey that tried to uncover people’s attitudes concerning violence against women. 7.7% of men thought it was acceptable for husbands to hit their wives in an argument – as did 6.8% of women.

The report stated, “Attitudes and beliefs are the key factors that drive crime and particularly violence against women. Non-progressive attitudes and beliefs among the people of South Africa, including women, remain a major challenge in fighting crime against women. Evidence provided in this report also shows that the problem is the level of crime in the country rather than crime against women.”

This means that we are a disturbingly violent society generally.

16 Days of Activism
South Africa joined the 16 Days of Activism campaign in 1998 as a way to establish a society free from violence. It takes place every year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). Within this period is Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day. Find out more on the SA History site here.

The campaign’s aim is to raise awareness and to include all citizens to find a solution. The theme for this year is Count me in.

Over this period the government of South Africa will gather and discuss the causes of violence against women and children and try and find solutions. This is also an opportunity for members of the community to express their experiences and thoughts.

To support the campaign, you can wear a red or white ribbon to show your support, participate in various events that are held, volunteer at organisations that support women and children.

Although countless factors contribute to violence in all forms, it seems that we as individuals are somehow also part of the problem. So, perhaps what is most important – and not only in the days of activism – is that we need to stop thinking that violence is ever justified, and stand up when we see incidences of violence against women – or anybody. As the report indicates, it is vital that we change our attitudes, and then hopefully behaviours will change too.


Tell us: Do you too agree that our attitudes can influence the incidence of violence against women and children?