Minister lights Torch of Peace

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pretoria - Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya on Monday lit the Torch of Peace, ahead of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which kicks off this week.

The torch, lit at the Union Buildings, symbolises the fight to end violence against women and children.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign takes place annually between 25 November, which is the International Day of No Violence Against Women, to the 10th of December, which is international Human Rights Day.

In its 10th year, the campaign seeks to mobilise all sectors of South African society to act together against abuse and to support victims and survivors of abuse.

Mayende-Sibiya raised concern that although the campaign had succeeded in creating awareness about abuse among the South African public, the abuse of children and women still continued to occur.

"This disjuncture between the high level of awareness and persisting abuse is a cause for concern," she said, adding that the continuing incidents of violence necessitated a review of the arrangements and programmes around fighting women and child abuse.

She said a review of the programmes around fighting gender-based violence and child abuse implemented over the past 10 years would be the primary focus of an anti-abuse summit to take place on Wednesday, which is when the campaign officially commences.

The minister committed to leading a coordinated effort to sustain the 16 Days of Activism campaign into its next decade.

"Our aim is to work in partnership with other government departments and civil society organisations to fight the scourge of violence throughout the 365 days of the year. We will be taking up the implementation of the 365 Days National Action Plan against gender based violence," she said.

The campaign this year, she said, would be used to intensify the response to drug trade use as well as the enforcement of existing restrictions with regard to access to alcohol.

"We should highlight the negative effects of alcohol abuse through various means including messages on the containers of alcohol beverages," she said.

The campaign coincides with the commemoration of World AIDS Day on 1 December and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.

Mayende-Sibiya explained that this period allowed government to focus on the link between sexual violence and the spread of HIV infection as well as incidents of abuse experienced by persons with disabilities.

This year's campaign, themed "Don't look away, Act against abuse" calls on families, communities, civil society, government and all stakeholders to act to stop the rampant cases of abuse in society, said the minister.

Over the 10 years, the government has witnessed an exponential growth of the campaign, making it the second most known government event in South Africa, after the State of the Nation Address, according to the GCIS Tracker Survey of last year.