New response to gender violence

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Johannesburg - The message is clear: “We can’t do it alone.”

To mark the last day of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities will be launching the National Council Against Gender Violence on Monday.

Department spokesman Cornelius Monama said the council would “develop a co-ordinated national response against this scourge”.

Monama added that a concerted effort was required to promote outreach for the campaign to marginalised communities who might not be aware of the resources and services available to them.

“Domestic violence is not something that should be left to families to resolve. Neither is it a private family matter. An uncle who rapes a niece needs to face the full force of the law,” said Monama.

He praised the 13th annual campaign as “highly successful”.

Lynne Cawood, director of Childline Gauteng, said the organisation’s community-based offices and the Department of Social Services ran programmes with the objective of “encouraging peace and a culture of respect in the home”.

Cawood said that although their programmes had received positive feedback, it was, however, “difficult to measure the effectiveness of the campaign”.

She said she believed the success of the campaign lay in the opportunity it gave people to “reflect on their behaviour towards issues of gender violence and to inspire change”.

Cawood congratulated men’s organisations such as Brothers for Life on tackling the issues of gender-based violence.

A digital campaign was being run by loveLife that featured blog entries from the survivors of rape and abuse.

The Inspirational 16-on-16 Digital Campaign blog featured views and voices on various aspects of violence and abuse.

Co-ordinator Angelo Louw reflected on the success of the blog.

“Every contributor wrote from their own point of view. We were lucky to have this group of people who were fearless about their difficult stories,” said Louw, who added that the response to the blogs had been massive.

“People made comments and also shared their personal stories on all forms of abuse, including cyber-bullying.”

The goal for the blogs was not only to promote the 16-Day campaign against gender violence, but to give victims of abuse a human voice and face.

“I am glad we got people talking because that is the first step in effecting any kind of change,” said Louw.

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