Pretoria: South Africa needs an army of community activists to work with government to fight against women and children abuse, says KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi.
Addressing thousands of people during the department’s launch of the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence against Women and Children at Braemer in Vulamehlo, MEC Thusi noted that South Africa does not have enough activists within communities.
“This is worrying because there is enough evidence that proves that activists who are rooted in communities are able to lead successful campaigns that contribute significantly to heightening awareness of violence against women and children.
“They also play a huge role in assisting victims of violence to get assistance from government, warning perpetrators about the consequences of abuse and educating people about their rights. We need to have more activists who will work hand in hand with government departments that are involved in the fight against abuse,” said Thusi.
She said an army of activists would also focus on issues rooted in local customs and traditions, such as child or forced marriages and rape.
MEC Thusi said while government has done well in terms of running campaigns against the abuse and criminalising it, some women are still subjected to daily inhumane treatment perpetrated by men.
“That is why we need more men to be part of the campaign against abuse. Men should raise their hands and be part of this campaign. While a lot has been achieved in creating a non-sexist society, discrimination against women in communities has not disappeared, but has become increasingly subtle and covert, which makes it difficult to detect.
“That is why we need to have more activists. There are communities that still endorse old traditional gender roles, stereotypes about lesser female competence and the lack of support for policies designed to help women. Stereotypes lead to discrimination against women and abuse.”
The MEC urged community leaders including Amakhosi, religious leaders and local government leaders to encourage people to be part of the campaign against the abuse of women and children.
She said the department’s social workers would assist in training community activists.
On Wednesday, President Zuma launched the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence against Women and Children campaign at Naaupoort in Mahikeng, North West.
Speaking at the launch, President Zuma urged those who have been abused – regardless of gender and age – not to remain silent and report the abuse to authorities.
The 16 Days of Activism is a United Nations campaign which takes place annually from 25 November – International Day of No Violence against Women – to 10 December – International Human Rights Day.
The theme for this year’s campaign is “Count Me In: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS