#CountMeIn: 16 Days of Activism 2016: Practical Ways to Help
Did you know? 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is a UN Women-approved campaign that takes place globally? For 16 days, people throughout the world – not just gender equality and children’s rights activists – come together to actively highlight causes that support abused women and children.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign starts and ends on significant global days. 25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 10 December is International Human Rights Day. The UN theme for 2016 is ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’.
When crime statistics are reported each year (in 2015/2016, 51, 895 sexual assaults were reported) a decrease in crimes against women and children isn’t always a good sign. Experts always caution that the crimes (domestic abuse and rape) are already underreported. A decrease could just mean even fewer people coming forward and seeing justice.
More than ever, it’s important to blow the whistle on gender-based violence and child abuse. Calling authorities to the scene of these atrocious violations is it still an important step in the process of bringing abuse to light and getting healing and justice for victims and survivors. Other ways you can get involved is through volunteering or donating funds to organisations working at grassroots levels to eradicate abuse.
How to help support and protect children beyond the 16 days of activism
Childline South Africa was founded in 1986 in KwaZulu-Natal as a response to the sexual abuse of children happening at the time. The national office was opened in 2003. Childline works to prevent violence against children, as well as provides counselling to children who have been abused and their families. Their biggest, most ambitious project is the Childline toll-free line that was launched in 2005. The organisation also provides education and training, the latter including processes where child witnesses are prepared for their court testimonies.
Childline accepts donations, seeks volunteer counsellors for the phone line and online and has a wish list.
The Teddy Bear Foundation was also founded in 1986. They conduct forensic examinations and forensic therapeutic evaluations that help establish abuse when physical evidence is not available. They also offer therapy services for abused children and court preparation. Another important aspect of the organisation is its medico-legal clinic at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, which trains individuals who will be working in child protection.
The Teddy Bear Foundation is always looking for volunteers.
How to help victims and survivors of gender-based violence beyond the 16 days of activism
Women are facing many intersecting forms of violence in this country. From poverty to being stuck in relationships where they are brutally abused physically, sexually, emotionally and mentally. South African women are dying in these relationships. Organisations such as POWA, Sonke Gender Justice and TAC are working to amplify the voices of abused women.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for women and children in the Western Cape, a place of safety for women and children fleeing abuse, accepts donations. POWA is accepting donations too, as well as asking for volunteers.
If you want to volunteer your time to help, the churches in your community are always a good place to start as they tend to offer services such as shelter and soup kitchens. Find out if the shelters in your community are in need of donations and volunteers (they almost always are) and see how you can help.
How to help eradicate gender-based violence and child abuse
Over and above helping victims and survivors of gender-based violence and putting them in safe environments, it’s also important to help perpetrators. To break the vicious cycle of abuse, the abusers themselves need rehabilitation, whether in the form of therapy while incarcerated or group therapy for boys who exhibit abusive behaviour. Organisations such as Brothers for Life work with men and boys.
Read this to start teaching your boys about consent at a young age.