Talking to anti-abuse campaigner

2017-12-05 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedJulie Muir Vivier from the Anti-Abuse and Empowerment Trust is a survivor of abuse.

PHOTO: suppliedJulie Muir Vivier from the Anti-Abuse and Empowerment Trust is a survivor of abuse.

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AS the country observes 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, which began on November 25 and runs until December 10, the Fever chatted to Julie Muir Vivier of the Anti-Abuse and Empowerment Trust to find out more about the campaign.

KN: What is the 16 Days campaign about?

JV: 16 Days of Activism is a worldwide campaign to address violence against women and children, highlighting the negative impact of abuse. The theme of the 2017 Campaign is ‘Together We Can End GBV in Education’.

This year’s theme builds on the momentum and achievements during the 2016 campaign, when over 700 organisations in 92 countries campaigned around the theme of ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All’.

The goal for 2017 is to continue to build awareness of, and advocate for, an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education once and for all.

KN: How did the campaign get its name, and why does it last for 16 days?

JV: It was initiated in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, held by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. Currently more than 3 700 organisations from some 164 countries participate in the annual campaign.

KN: How can I get involved with the 16 Days campaign?

JV: There are numerous ways to contribute to the campaign, ranging from signing local and global petitions for law changes, joining regional marches, volunteering within support groups and organisations, fund-raising for victim support, assisting SAPS to enhance victim centres, collecting emergency packages for victims, and most importantly, contribute to the teaching and discussion of mutual respect within your home.

KN: What is gender-based violence?

JV: Gender-based violence and violence against women are terms often used interchangeably as most gender-based violence is inflicted by men on women and girls.

However, it is important to retain the gender-based aspect of the concept as this highlights the fact that violence against women is an expression of power inequalities between women and men.

It is important to note there is a rise in the increase of males that experience abuse. GBV includes physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, sexual, trafficking of humans, and online bullying, stalking and harassment.

KN: Enlighten us about the Anti-Abuse and Empowerment Trust?

JV : The Trust is a survivor-led registered NPO, which focuses on the reduction of all forms of abuse.

This is across all population groups, regardless of gender, age and sexual orientation, using mass media, and public speaking by an abuse survivor to encourage and support victims and survivors of abuse, including driving public awareness to the issue.

The survivor voice is an area that is sorely lacking in SA yet is probably one of the most successful interventions in addressing elements of abuse.

KN: What role can society can play in the management of abuse?

JV: The most important two roles are the instilling of mutual respect within the home and as a basis within the family sphere.

Reporting of incidents is vital for the full effect of the law to be achieved.

KN: If I am a victim or survivor of gender-based violence, where can I go to get help?

JV: I believe South Africa is leading the global fight against abuse overall, including the link of GBV to organised crime, and is no longer a hidden topic.

This was evident at the recent G20 and Brics meetings. As such, the extent of advocacy and available services across the country has risen drastically over the past six months.

Vodacom and Powa [People Opposing Women Abuse] recently partnered to develop an incident app and the national government and provincial services have hotlines with referral systems in place. Assistance can be sought anonymously.

KN: Do you have a message for abuse victims and survivors?

JV: There is always hope, but the ultimate goal of healing and understanding is the arming of victims with knowledge.

The ‘self’ will always remain the deciding factor on the road to recovery and peace.

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