The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities has challenged communities to take responsibility in realising a South Africa free from gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).
The department made the call at the closing of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, held at Iraq Taxi Rank in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, on Friday.
This year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign has been observed under the theme “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: 16 Days of Activism – moving from awareness to accountability”.
Speaking at the event, Director-General for the department, Advocate Mikateko Maluleke, said the campaign has adopted a programmatic approach that focuses on accountability to address the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide, in line with the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF.
“We are no longer raising awareness, but moving to accountability [which] means everyone should ask themselves what they are doing to raise awareness on GBVF. Accountability means everyone must take responsibility for their lives [and] what it is you have been doing to stop the abuse,” Maluleke said.
During the event, Maluleke handed over the certificates to participants, including the taxi operators, who attended a training on GBVF.
The trained operators will serve as ambassadors against gender-based violence in the taxi industry and assist the victims of gender-based violence.
The training, which was offered by the National School of Government (NSG), forms part of an ongoing programme rolled out in provinces as part of the department’s 365 Days of Activism Campaign, linked to Pillar 2 of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP on GBVF) which advocates for prevention and social cohesion, thereby ensuring safe spaces for women and children.
The training is expected to be rolled out in all the provinces over a period of time.
Maluleke said the department will work with all taxi associations to produce memory sticks with messages on GBVF and information on where the victims can seek help. The message will be played inside the taxis for the commuters to listen to.
With the 10th of December being International Human Rights Day, Maluleke also reminded South Africans that every citizen must commit to 365 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.
The day calls for every man, women and child to be treated equally and for all human rights to be respected and upheld.
“It doesn’t mean that we only start activities during the 16 Days of Activism campaign which starts on 25 November, but the awareness runs 365 days.”
The closing event took place after a two-day workshop held in Emalahleni to sensitise taxi operators to GBV experienced at taxi ranks and in taxis.
The workshop, developed in partnership with NSG, seeks to create safer transport spaces for women and children.
Sharing the lessons during the training, Sheron Mashego, who is an Administrator Taxi Association emphasised that GBV is wrong, whether “you are doing it or doing nothing to stop it”.
“We’ve learned that gender-based violence is wrong at all levels. We’ve also learned that police have tried and the communities are trying, but where are the taxi drivers and owners because we know that taxi owners are able to put an end to most of the things.
“As taxi operators, we have come up with a slogan saying ‘you kill, you rape, you abuse… we visit you’ [because] the abuse will not end if we keep quiet and don’t stand up against it.
“We will work hand in hand with the police, and the police will accompany us when we visit them [abusers],” Mashego said.
Source: South African Government News Agency