Ending violence is not just a “16 days” campaign
Today marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, which runs until 10 December. During this time, government and civil society collaborate to generate an increased awareness of the adverse effects that violence against women and children has on society.
It is also a time in which we reflect on the interventions which civil society, along with the public and private sectors, can and should implement to better protect and support women and children.
And while this campaign is a crucial one, especially in a country where gender-based violence runs rampant, we should be mindful of it every day. We, as a Department of Social Development, and Western Cape government, believe the need to end violence should be a 365 days campaign, not just 16 Days.
There are communities across the province doing just this.
In the Central Karoo, Prince Albert, Saldanha Bay, Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Worcester, various marches against GBV were held.
Our department, in partnership with GCIS, Department of Local Government, SAPS, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Health, Thuthuzela Care Centre, the National Prosecuting Authority, and civil society organisations led the charge.
They also led a roundtable discussion in Worcester, to speak about ways in which this scourge can be eradicated.
“We were honoured to join residents and civil society in Prince Albert, as they marched to the municipal offices, pledging to take decisive action against GBV,” says Western Cape Minister for Social Development Sharna Fernandez.
“I’m marching to put a stop to the violence. We need to take hands and work together, not just for women and children, but for the men as well. We just need to work together. It’s a big problem in Prince Albert, so taking a stand is worth the effort,” says resident Christina van Rooyen.
We are also mindful of violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, and pledge to support and help those who are victims.
“We shouldn’t just stop here. Violence has become an everyday thing, we can’t go on like this. Enough is enough! Violence in our communities, and even in the LGBTQI community, it’s bad. We should be taking this message of no violence even further than today or the 16 days,” says resident Justine Booysen.
Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde said, “This is the responsibility we as fathers, brothers, sons, neighbours, community leaders - all of us - must accept, embrace and work on 365 days of the year.”
Minister Fernandez also attended the launch of the victim support room at the Prince Albert police station. The re-opening symbolizes Prince Albert’s commitment to protecting its most vulnerable residents. While the facility was previously operational, it has now been boosted with improved services.
There are now newly trained volunteers providing victim support services at this facility, more toys for the young ones, and extra furniture to ensure those who come here are as comfortable as possible.
When speaking to those attending the launch, Minister Fernandez said the following: “I’m sure the staff understand the individuals who choose to seek help are taking a brave step towards protecting themselves. They know that these individuals are terrified, traumatized and in need of a safe space. It is not easy coming forward to speak out against your abuser, that is why it is so important that a calm and private environment is created for those who wish to do so.”
The DSD’s Victim Empowerment Programme seeks to assist and offer support services to victims of abuse and violence. In the 2021/2022 financial year, more than 21 000 GBV victims accessed psychosocial support through this programme, much more than we’d originally targeted.
And just like Prince Albert, Worcester, and Saldanha Bay, we want to continue helping individuals, from all walks of life, who have been victims of violence and abuse.
In October we held a Provincial GBV Summit where we looked at the gaps and strengths of the Western Cape Government’s provincial GBV Implementation Plan. A total of 1532 delegates attended the summit. As a result, our GBV Technical Task Team is currently busy with a review of the implementation plan and will at the end of March 2023 provide a draft amended plan to Cabinet to guide and focus GBV interventions in the Province.
We’ve also opened the 8th Thuthuzela Care Centre in partnership with the NPA, Health Department and civil society. Next year, we are establishing a GBV shelter in the Overberg, in partnership with the Overberg Municipality.
These are just some of the ways we as a government are trying to end the scourge of GBV.
“I commend SAPS, DSD staff members, community organisations, stakeholders such as the Department of Justice and the National Prosecuting Authority as well as citizens across the province who are doing their part as well. During the next 16 days – and beyond – we will continue raising awareness about all the ways in which we can end the violence, and help and support victims. To those who may be too afraid to seek help: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The help and support that is available doesn’t just end with 16 Days. There are various avenues available to access support services. It takes one voice, one step at a time, to make a change,” says Minister Fernandez.
If you need help, or know of someone who does, here are some helpful numbers:
Gender Based Violence Command Centre: Call 0800 428 428 or dial *120*786#
Stop Gender Violence helpline: 0800 150 150
SAPS: 08600 10111
Report any abuse of children and women to the Department of Social Development on 0800 220 250.
Department of Social Development Email: GBV365DAYS@westerncape.gov.za / SD.CustomerCare@westerncape.gov.za
Find out more about our safety services for women and children by sending an SMS with the word INFO to 35 395.
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Media Liaison Officer
Office of MEC Sharna Fernandez
Department of Social Development
Tel: 084 775 2975