Hoot against violence against women and children

Cape Town: Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, has called on motorists to hoot and switch on their vehicle hazard lights for five minutes, on 19 November, to raise awareness on violence against women and children.

Leading a debate on the 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children campaign - under the theme "count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward" - the Minister said all citizens, especially men, should take a stand against the abuse of women, children and other vulnerable members of society.

The debate took place during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday.

The Minister said the United Nations has declared 19 November as International Men's Day, which focuses on men's health.

"This day also provides for solidarity against violence against women and children. On Thursday the 19th, next week, we call on all South Africans to switch on their hazard lights, blow whistles and hoot for at least five minutes in the period between 7:30am and 8am just to register their concern, especially men who are saying 'not in my name'," said the Minister.

She urged all South Africans to switch off their lights between 8pm and 9pm on 24 November and to light a candle in memory of the many South African men and women who have died as a result of the scourge of HIV and Aids.

On 25 November, the world will mark the International Day Against Violence Against Women and Children. Government will commemorate the day with an event in Mahikeng in the North West, which will be addressed by President Jacob Zuma.

The Minister urged all South Africans to join hands in marking this day.

"This cannot just be a campaign for government. Once more I would like to emphasise that this is a campaign for the nation when we are saying 'count me in, together moving a non-violent South Africa forward'.

"We all have to contribute towards the change and creating a South Africa that is free and peaceful," she said.

Minister Shabangu said that the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign has over the years gained momentum, making it one of the most well-known campaigns in government.

She said a stand should be taken against violence because while crime statistics indicate that there has been a reduction in violence against women and children, the brutal nature of the crime remains a concern.

Her department launched the #365daysofactivism campaign - an approach that mobilises all sectors of society to join hands in fighting the scourge.

She said the campaign saw government mobilising South Africans from all walks of life, including sports personalities, and the department going to hot spots to open children's parks and plant food gardens.

"We have seen thousands of South Africans signing a pledge to be counted in against gender-based violence.