As South Africans prep themselves for the upcoming festive season, there are those who are dreading the holidays. Fear creeping into their hearts. The holidays bringing no festive cheer. This is a period of time where victims of abuse will be spending more time with their abusers.
Violence against women and children is a harsh reality that goes undetected far too often. Victims often enduring their pain in silence. In the quest to raise awareness about the abuse faced by women and children, 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children was born.
The awareness campaign takes place annually from November 25 to December 10. This year’s theme is #HearMeToo: End Violence against Women and Children!
But can we as a community end abuse? The Newcastillian asked Newcastle Child Welfare and South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) about the importance of supporting the initiative? And how we can make a difference?
Farieda Mia – Head Social Worker at Newcastle Child Welfare
“Newcastle Child Welfare will be addressing groups of people during this time. However, despite the programmes and outreach campaigns, crimes against women and children are escalating and becoming more violent.”
Because of this, Mia is encouraging abused victims to come forward and break the silence. She is also encouraging others to report abuse if they know of any taking place. “If we can save but one woman or child from a life of abuse,” she says.
Nompumelelo Mlaba – Social Worker at Newcastle Child Welfare
“Supporting 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is important. Especially if you look at all the cases around the world, where violence against women and children is increasing. We need to get together and fight this issue,” Nompumelelo emphasises.
How can we as a community make a difference? Nompumelelo says that if you know of abuse taking place in a household, report it immediately.
“If you are being abused, speak up and report it. There are organisations in place to help you.”
Veena Singh – Newcastle Child Welfare staff member
“With the increase of gender-based violence, there is a need for people to promote the 16 days of Activism. We need to create more awareness about the issue.”
Lillian Gajoo – SANCA
“I feel the 16 Days of Activism should not just be done during this period. It must be part of our daily lives,” Lillian says.
Through her experience at SANCA, Lillian says she has noticed a close link between domestic violence and substance abuse. Because of this, SANCA will be partnering with service organisations such as Newcastle Child Welfare, Newcastle Crisis Centre and the Department of Health.
“The high rate of substance abuse, such as alcohol and drugs, play a role in violence. If we can help address substance abuse, we can maybe minimise the violence against women and children.”
With service organisations such as SANCA and Newcastle Child Welfare preparing to reach out to the community during this time, what will you be doing for the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children? How do you think we can combat abuse?