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Every year, starting on the 25thof November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women)until the 10th of December (Human Rights Day) a campaign known as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-basedViolence is held in hopes of creating awareness about gender-based violence,the services available to victims of GBV and encourages victims to speak outand find solidarity through this years #HearMeToo campaign. This campaignhighlights the collective social responsibility of striving towards aviolence-free society.

You may be wondering, “What is Gender-based Violence?” Gender-based violence is any form of harm or suffering that is perpetrated against someone due to their gender, due to gender inequalities and gender norms, which causes a negative impact on their physical, sexual or psychological health, development and identity. There are many expressions of GBV, including: sexual violence, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, violence against LGBTIQ people, honour violence and human trafficking.

To date, approximately 164 countries are participating in this annual campaign with each year hosting a different theme. This year’s theme is ‘#HearMeToo: End Violence against Women and Children’ which has provided an outlet for women survivors of sexual violence to speak up and seek recourse. “The 16 Days campaign acknowledges that while names and contexts may differ around the world, women and children continue to experience abuse and their stories must be heard.”

This topic has been receiving growing attention over recent years with efforts including the controversial South-African led #MenAreTrash and #TheTotalShutDown movements this year. The #TotalShutDown movement marched on the 1st of August and culminated in the first ever National Summit on Gender-based Violence which was convened by South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and had women’s rights groups and civil society organisations as participants. This summit was one of the key demands of the #TotalShutDown movement and womxn in all their diversities were able to present a letter of their concerns to the president.

Later, the campaign resulted in a Summit that made a public and political acknowledgement of the crisis levels of gender-based violence in the country and adopted a National Declaration which, in-part, reads, “The extent of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa renders it a national crisis.” The Declaration also articulates a set of 17 commitments towards addressing gender-based violence.

While these campaigns bring about great movements for and awareness about the cause, it is important to acknowledge that the success of this campaign rests on our personal daily individual and collective actions to safeguard our society against the cycle of abuse. Be aware of what is happening around you, how you personally treat people and research ways in which you can assist the fight against gender-based violence in South Africa.

Let’s protect our women and children in South Africa. Are you, or someone you know of, looking for a lawyer in Durban? Durban Law Offices can assist you with children’s rights and domestic violence disputes. Our children’s rights attorneys and domestic violence attorneys believe in and fight for the rights of all citizens. Please contact us on 031 836 0307 or email us at should you need any advice or assistance.