Less talk, more action needed

2009-12-05 12:28

DECEMBER 10 (International Human Rights Day) marks the end of the

16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

While the annual embrace of this 16-day campaign by both government

and the people should be lauded, after 11 years its efficacy in combatting the

scourge of gender-based violence remains questionable.

South Africa’s bold adoption of this campaign came just a year

after the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) of 1998. Unfortunately

the DVA has remained an ambitious but ultimately ineffectual piece of


Its lofty ambitions have been thwarted by a lack of political will,

budgetary constraints for key ministries and departments and a general failure

by the courts and police to prioritise women and children as key constituents.

What is needed is more than a 16-day campaign. Women’s fundamental

rights to bodily integrity, as enshrined in the constitution, need a heavier

hand to enforce.

Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the police and courts to

keep proper records and to prioritise domestic violence crimes. Women need to be

­educated about their rights in relation to their abusers and empowered to

demand those rights.

And this needs to happen 365 days of the year.

We’ve talked the talk for 11 years. Now it’s time to walk the


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