Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo
2 minute read
13 Dec 2018
9:30 am

We need more than 16 days … it should be a way of life

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

The call to ensure the safety of women and children in South Africa should ring out loudly for all and sundry to hear throughout the year.

Picture for illustrative purposes.

Sixteen days of activism against the abuse of women and children came to an end on Monday.

I saw so much potential in the campaign. The anticipation was that every year, politicians, law enforcement and government would jump into action and defend the vulnerable of society.

Our government and police officers who speak to us with very little interest throughout the year suddenly came to life between November 25 and December 10.

That is irritating. Gender-based violence is not calendar sensitive.

Ironically, hot on the heels of the closing of the campaign, the ANC was thrown into a sexual scandal. Its mouthpiece, a national spokesperson, has been accused of forcing himself into the bed of his personal assistant.

As a political scholar, I thought there was no tool more powerful than the sixteen days campaign. I hoped cabinet ministers and people of influence would not recycle their mundane and almost predictable speeches of every year.

The emergence of organisations like the #Totalshutdown should have been a signal to the powers that be that something has to change to bring a halt to the violence.

The patriarchy and its continued existence in South Africa is symptomatic of the failure of our society to do better. We live in a broken society that will continue to breed abusive men, even though some will argue that hurt people hurt people … the abusers are victims themselves.

The idea that the violence should for some unexplained reason simmer during the sixteen days campaign is what government is selling us.

But the call to ensure the safety of women and children in South Africa should ring out loudly for all and sundry to hear throughout the year.

Sixteen days should be an everyday occurrence; it should be a way of life.

What we are doing at the moment is merely giving the abusers sixteen days of leave from their abusive ways during the remainder of the year.

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo.

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