Make the 16 Days mat­ter

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

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.

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