– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase
In light of 16 Days of activism, we cannot forget to note the International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women that recently took place this week. We are living in challenging times, and the 25th of November serves as a reminder to reflect and address violence at the source, and to work towards the eradication of the infringement of women and children’s rights. This is a time that should prompt world leaders to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise legislation and policies that will better serve their people. Violation of women is embedded in the influence of mainly oppressive structures such as patriarchy and toxic masculinity. These behaviours are often perpetuated in the home, by friends, and by men on the street corners in their neighbourhoods. Young people, in particular, young boys are vulnerable to this influence and are taught to abuse their power to show that they are superior to the next person, and more often than not women and children become victims.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant problem in many countries, and anyone at a given point of time can be susceptible to violence. There is no shame in being a victim, and we should encourage those affected to report it and put active work towards removing the stigma. No matter your social class, education, or religion, GBV is an issue that we should all care about and work towards getting eradicating. According to the UN Women, violations fall under intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, and child marriage. The United Nations Human Rights office of the commissioner further stated, ”The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Here is how you can act in your own way in the elimination of violence against women:
- Listen to and believe survivors
- Teach the next generation and learn from them
- Call for responses and essential services fit for purpose
- Understand consent
- Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help
- Start a conversation on social media
- Stand against rape culture
- Fund women’s organisations
- Hold each other accountable
- Know the data and demand more of it
The psychological aftermath of experiencing violence is something one will carry with them throughout their lives and perpetrators should be held accountable and brought to justice. As a society, we also need to hold ourselves responsible for actively dismantling toxic masculinity by teaching children about respect, kindness, love, and human rights.
May we take into consideration the victims of gender-based violence over the remainder of the 16 days of activism campaign, and may we continuously strive to take the necessary steps in assisting in its elimination.