Media Statement By Parliament, Sunday 26 November 2017 –
The campaign for 16 Days Of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children has started. It runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day) and is supported by the United Nations.
It is part of a worldwide campaign, to raise awareness about violence against women and children as a human rights issue. The United Nations campaign focuses on violence against women and girls. South Africa added children to its campaign because of the high incidence of violence against children in our country.
Our campaign says: Let’s eliminate all forms of violence against women and children in our public and private lives, including emotional and physical abuse and practices that force someone to do something against their will.
Violence against women and children goes against the Constitution of our country and our laws.
Our Constitution enshrines the right to equality and human dignity. It prohibits discrimination, including cultural practices that may conflict with the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. Parliament has respected, promoted and strived to fulfil these rights through its law-making and oversight responsibilities. Laws to curb violence against women and children include the Child Care Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Children’s Act and the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.
Parliament also provides a national forum for public consideration of issues and violence against women and children has featured in several debates in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces since democracy. However, more needs to be done to eliminate the scourge of violence, which continues to blemish our constitutional democracy and undermine our democratic gains.
Those who commit such crimes, and in so doing attack our Constitution and its human rights culture, must face the full might of the law. More should be done to curb and prevent violence. This would include reducing inequality, implementing social reforms and abandoning social norms that support, even tacitly, the use of violence. Men, in particular, should play a key role in changing the behaviour and attitudes among men about all kinds of violence against women and children. It is in the interests of all of us to remove obstacles hindering us from building a prosperous and sustainable society that develops and harnesses the potential of all our people. The time for continually talking about what to do next is over. It is time for action and it is time for a change.