Make the 16 Days matter
For most journalists, the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is one of the worst times of the year. We cover an endless stream of horror stories – tales of women beaten to a pulp and killed by their male partners, and of children murdered in increasingly brutal and unfathomable ways.
We call it the 16 Days of Violence because that is what it feels like. It seems as if the country’s abusers get together for a strategy session before November 25 to work out new ways they can teach women and children “a lesson” this year.
It makes the best of us hardened newspaper folk want to weep at our desks.
Although we understand why we need the 16 Days of Activism campaign – an awareness campaign of this nature is better than nothing at all – we are left wondering what the point of it is.
You can bet that the wife-beaters and child abusers among us will not change their ways after seeing a poster or hearing a speech by President Jacob Zuma, in which he says it is wrong to beat your kids or intimate partner.
After all, safe driving campaigns during the Easter and Christmas periods have no noticeable effect on the road hogs among us, who continue with their inimitable driving style.
What we would like to see is a study commissioned by the women’s ministry to determine the effectiveness of the 16 Days of Activism campaign.
We need more than just posters and speeches. Perhaps we need the women’s ministry to lobby for better funding of rape crisis workers and of social workers slaving for a pittance from nongovernmental organisations, and to fight for the police to do their jobs and enforce the Domestic Violence Act.
Because that was what we highlighted last year, and things are still the same. We are tired of the same. We need something different.