Marching to nowhere, a 16 Days Of Activism legacy
I’ve been keeping this a secret for a while now, feeling terrible that I held such strong disapproval for one of the ways that social activists go about tackling various human plights. Today, this will change because, fortunately for me, there are other people who share the same sentiment. The truth is I believe that all this marching here and marching there does nothing for victims of violence and abuse. It does nothing for much of anything really. The time and resources dedicated to these kinds of awareness drives may create some awareness, but, later that evening, she may still receive another blow from her drunk husband. Awareness is vital, but it always seems like the easiest way to claim a cause.
Despite dozens of marches in the name of women and children every year, incidents of rape, domestic violence and abuse continue to climb. Unfortunately, police statistics record domestic violence cases under assault. The Institute for Security Studies believes the numbers are unreliable:
“Police statistics for assault are notoriously unreliable because most victims don’t report these crimes to the police. Since the victim and perpetrator may be related (such as in a case of domestic violence) victims are often reluctant to disclose assault.”
The sexual offences rate decreased from 99 in 2014/15 to 94.3 in 2015/16 according to Africa Check, but even then the institute said that this was a sign that fewer people are reporting sexual offences.
Source: Africa Check
The communities who watched traffic come to a standstill, and the scores of people chanting, holding up placards are left with nothing more than a moment in which they are reminded of their seemingly hopeless cases.
While searching the web for other people who shared the same concerns over marching for causes, I came across an old post by a user on Reddit who expressed similar thoughts:
“I get things like raising awareness and giving visibility to something that might otherwise go unnoticed, but I wonder whether activism such as this serves more as a way to ease our conscience and boost our sense of self rather than actually accomplishing anything of value. Of course it is better than nothing, and I am sure it does produce some benefits, but is it really something worth doing?”
This year community workers in Eldorado Park have opted to forgo the usual marching and picketing. For 16 Days of No Violence against Women and Children, the local foot soldiers have persuaded a number of government departments to come together to set up a pop-up centre providing a range of services including drug counselling and rehabilitation opportunities, as well as access to police, legal and social grant agents.
Chairperson for the Eldorado Park’s Local Drug Action Committee Cheryl Pillay said that the community wants to take a more hands-on approach. Their campaign also includes models made up to be bruised and scarred campaigning in specific areas to highlight the reality of victims of domestic violence.
“We already admitted five boys to rehab since the start of this week, so things are working out,” Pillay said.
The Eldorado Park community could easily be marching and knocking on doors but, fortunately, they have let the cat out of my bag and finally allowed me to share this potentially eyebrow-raising view on social justice. Marching is just not the only option for a cause and it really does, ironically, seem like the lazier option.
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