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Protect women and children, urges government

Pretoria: Government has reiterated the call for the protection of women and children as the 16 Days for No Violence against Women and Children campaign came to an end this week.

In a statement on Friday, the Department of Women said government reminded South Africans that there is no place for perpetrators of domestic violence or gender-based violence in society.

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is an international campaign observed from 25 November to 10 December to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence has on women, children and society.

This year’s campaign was held under the theme “Count Me In. Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.

The department said government will not “tire in condemning cowardly acts that are perpetuated against the most vulnerable members of the society”.

“Government will continue to tighten the reigns of the law. The recent sentencing to three life terms of the 52 year old East London man who raped his biological daughter, adopted daughter and niece is one of the testimonies that the wheels of justice continue to turn,” said Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu.

Minister Shabangu said if the country is to win the fight against this scourge all members of society must stand up and make a difference.

“The safety of our women and children rests in the hands of not only government but every South African,” she said.

This year marked the 17th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign in South Africa.

“It is important that the campaign is not viewed as a stand-alone event but another leg of the year-long campaigns that are aimed at mobilising members of the society, especially men to join hands with government against children and women abuse,” said the Minister.

She said government calls on responsible father figures to instil the values of human dignity, equality and respect in young men and boys.

“They must mentor and teach young boys to grow into men who value and respect women and men are encouraged to get actively involved in programmes that prevent gender violence,” said the Minister.

Government has several legislative provisions in place to address violence and abuse of women and children.

The Domestic Violence Act, the Criminal Law Amendment (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act, the Protection from Harassment Act and the Children’s Act are some of the pieces of legislation that were enacted to, among other things, protect women and children.

In addition, laws which prohibits kidnapping and human trafficking provide another layer of protection.

South Africa is also a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

The country also recently hosted the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Dubravka Šimonovi?. “We welcome the fruitful engagement that she has had with government and with civil society and look forward to her final report which we are sure will enrich our approach to eradicating this scourge,” said Minister Shabangu.

In addition, Thuthuzela Care Centres are one-stop centres which enable rape victims to lodge a case with the police and receive counselling and medical care. There are centres located in various areas throughout the country.

The Minister also urged women and children to make use of the Gender Based Violence Command Centre. The command centre was launched in March 2014 and provides support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence.

It allows social worker agents to provide telephonic support and counselling to callers and can direct the victim’s case to a social worker close to them.

The call centre operates through a toll free number: 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV) or callers can request a social worker to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free from any cell phone).

“Change starts with you and I. it is in our power to make our communities and society safe for women and children. Together we can take South Africa forward by promoting and supporting peaceful co-existence in homes and communities,” said the Minister.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS