The Plettenberg Bay launch of the 16 Days of Activism against gender violence on November 25 was a resounding success. Photo: Ewald Stander.
PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Count Me In: Together We Move a Non-Violent South Africa Forward, was the theme of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, launched at the recently renovated Plettenberg Bay Police Station on Tuesday, November 25.
About 16 Days of Activism
16 Days of Activism against gender violence is an international campaign. The first 16 Days campaign in 1991 saw the launch of a worldwide petition drive aimed at the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna. This petition encouraged the preparatory committee of the conference to address women's human rights at every level of its proceedings and to recognise gender violence as a human rights issue.
Gender violence takes many forms, depending on the cultural context. Rape and sexual harassment are commonly recognised, however gender violence includes trafficking, child marriage, wife beating, 'lobola'-related violence, female genital mutilation, sexual violence during wars, femicide, forced sterilisation, pornography and kidnapping, psychological abuse, intimidation and harassment. These are unacceptable violations of human rights, forming a massive obstacle to true gender equality and genuine human progress.
A platform for change
The Plettenberg Bay Police did a sterling job of turning an awkward situation into something positive when the official opening of the new police station was postponed at the last minute. Being that it was impossible to simply call off an event which many hours of hard work and preparation had gone into, instead of simply wasting the resources already invested, the Plett Police in partnership with the Plett Community Police Forum and Bitou Municipality used the existing platform to lend their voices to the plight of women and children who suffer abuse daily in South African communities across the socio-economic spectrum.
The provincial commissioner of the Western Cape, Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer, addressed those in attendance. "Men must be responsible. Some men continue to spend their money on drugs and alcohol, but neglect their responsibilities at home. Others restrain themselves for 16 days, but continue with their abusive behaviour thereafter. This abusive behaviour must stop," he said. Lamoer urged the men in the audience to take a stand against domestic violence.
Local authorities pledge support
"The police in the George Cluster will, in partnership with key stakeholders in government, the communities and the private sector, mobilise the involvement of men in the participation in activities aimed at raising awareness on the impact of violence against women and children," said Major-General Thembinkosi Patekile, George Cluster commander, "Violence against women and children continues to be widespread, and the these victims get younger and younger every year. Incidents of domestic violence are being reported in all communities. Today, we need strong, responsive, organised and engaged citizens to ensure continuously that, the needs of our most vulnerable groups, especially of our children, are prioritised."
Bitou executive mayor Memory Booysen as well as representatives of government departments, business, religious leaders and non-governmental organisations were in attendance, as were all provincial heads and station commanders in the Southern Cape. The police band played music and the crowd particularly enjoyed the female vocalist's rendition of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. Lamoer pointed out that women should not be expected to simply survive abuse at the hands of their male counterparts on a daily basis.
Plett Police express grattitude
The Plettenberg Bay station commander, Colonel Nolan Michaels thanked all the sponsors for their assistance with the launch: Moby Dicks Seafood Restaurant, Thyme and Again, Woolworths, VIP, Ocean Safaris, John Krauss, Flashbacks, Jan Maritz, Business Chamber, Bitou Municipality, Department of Correctional Services, JCE Containers, Old Nick, Paul Jordaan, Claire's, Checkers, Nguni's, Knysna SuperSpar, The Deli Factory, Pippa's Flowers, Sassenheim Flowers , Magic Décor, and The Med.
"With your assistance, this event was a huge success. Thank you everyone who assisted, as well as those who participated in this event," said SAPS media liaison, Marlene Pieterse.
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