Here we go again for this year’s edition – 2017 marks the 19th year in a row since South Africa joined the global movement known here as the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
Year after year it is themed, events are arranged, speeches are given, columns written, numbers crunched, stories shared – and still women continue to be abused, beaten and killed by their intimate male partners.
A sliver of a silver lining on the eve of this year’s campaign was the increase of Oscar Pistorius’ sentence for murdering Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, and Christopher Panayiotou being handed a life sentence for having his wife, Jayde, murdered on April 21 2015.
These two high-profile women killers are not exceptions to the rule.
They are part of an army of men who are at war with the women in their lives. They simply represent the bloodiest end of the scale.
The other end of the scale is so entrenched in our everyday language and way of life that most of it passes by unchallenged and unremarked upon.
We are talking of women being kept or driven into “traditional” gender roles; of women earning less than men in the workplace for doing the same job; and of bombarding children with statements such as “girls aren’t good at maths”, “boys will be boys”, “boys don’t cry” and “don’t be such a girl”.
This year’s theme is Count me in: together moving a nonviolent South Africa forward.
It is unlikely that when December 10 comes, signalling the end of this campaign, we will have moved anywhere at all – the abuse of women is part of the fabric of our society.
It is the same story every year. Perhaps we should stop talking and debating, and instead start doing.
A good place to start would be spending the 16 Days’ budget on legal aid to help abused women.