Xingwana launches 16 Days campaign

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mafikeng - The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has officially launched this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.

In an exclusive interview with SAnews at Mmabatho stadium in Mafikeng, Xingwana said the re-opening of the sexual offences courts – announced by Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe in August – was a boost to government’s efforts to stem out gender based violence.

“With the re-opening of the sexual offences courts, the huge backlog of these cases [of violence against women and children], will actually be cut down.

“Government is not fighting a losing battle against gender based violence. This campaign is a success and the most understood and well-known government programme. 

“… I cannot say I am happy because the scourge is still unacceptable high. But what we are saying is that we’ve moved as government, as we’ve re-opened the sexual offences courts, and we’ve re-opened the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units within the South African Police Service,” she said.

The special courts had been phased out over the years because of budget constraints. Radebe said he expected that 57 fully equipped and staffed sexual offences courts would be operational in the next three years.

Xingwana on Sunday urged South Africans to blow the whistle on gender based violence in order to create a society that is safe and secure for women and children.

The minister also used the platform to urge law enforcement agencies to arrest and impose harsh sentences on those who are found guilty of abusing women and children.

“We strongly believe that harsher sentences will serve as a deterrent. While we’ve noted the decrease in the latest statistics of gender based violence, we believe that we need to heighten the campaign by making it effective 365 days, not only just during the 16 Days campaign,” she said.

Co-leading the launch, North West Premier Thandi Modise said her office was running the One Million Signature campaign against rape.

“Awareness is being created across the province, as we are working with the police and traditional leaders. We are also looking at tightening places of safety for victims.

“We want to ensure that the vulnerable… are given enough self-confidence to report all cases of gender based violence.”

National Council against Gender Based Violence

Director–General at the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Veliswa Baduza, said the National Council against Gender Based Violence was looking at developing a national strategic plan for the next five years, which will inform what should happen going forward.

“The strategic plan will contain an action plan for all relevant stakeholders of the council… We are hopeful that we are going to make an impact in terms of fighting the scourge against gender based crimes in our communities,” she said.

The National Council, with about 20 members, was officially unveiled by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe last year.

16 Days

16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is an annual awareness raising campaign observed globally.

The purpose of the campaign is to address policy and legal issues; as well as the prevention of violence against women and children and the elimination of all forms of gender based violence.

The campaign takes place annually from the 25th November to 10 December. -