The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and children. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute and in 1998 South Africa joined the campaign.
These 16 days encourage all people living in South Africa and other participating countries to speak out and call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and children. #HearMeToo is the theme for this year’s United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and one of the goals is to highlight and show support for activists and organisations that fight against the abuse of women and children. This year the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust will highlight some of the many organisations that we work with who work to improve the safety and rights of women and children in South Africa every day.
To all of those who fight to protect the rights of women and children, defend and protect them and care for victims and survivors, across South Africa and around the world, we salute you.
- The Shukumisa Coalition
The Shukumisa Coalition is made up of more than 75 organisations across South Africa including NGOs research institutions, law and policy organisations and community-based organisations that work together to ensure that the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act (Sexual Offences Act) is implemented, that the South African Government honours its obligation to put the right measures in place to address sexual violence and that these are equitable across the whole country. Part of the Coalition’s work is to ensure that South Africa has well crafted, well implemented laws and policies in place that are developed through broad-based public participation processes in which women play a key role.
- The Women’s Legal Centre
The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) is a non-profit law centre that seeks to achieve equality for women, particularly black women through impact-based litigation, the provision of free legal advice, legal support to advocacy campaigns run by other organisations and training that ensures people know and understand the impact of judgements of the courts on the subject of women’s rights. The WLC also provides legal advice to the other non-governmental women’s organisations nationally and in Africa.
- Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
LHR was established in 1979 to fight the oppression and abuse of human rights under Apartheid. It later helped the transition to democracy through its voter education and monitoring in 1994. Today it is recognised as being in the forefront of civil society when it comes to strengthening our democracy. LHR is a human rights NGO whose Gender Equality Programme engages in strategic litigation defending and upholding the rights of women and gender non conforming people. In 2018 LHR acted as a friend of the court in the matter in which the Constitutional Court issued an unanimous judgement that there will be no time limit in which to lay a charge of any sexual offence in South Africa.
- Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)
SWEAT is at the cutting edge of sex worker advocacy, human rights defence and mobilisation in Africa. SWEAT has determined the discussions on a legal adult sex work industry where sex work is acknowledged as work, and where sex workers have a strong voice, which informs and influences wider social debates. SWEAT has campaigned for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa through Sisonke, a movement that was formed by sex workers because they were tired of being harassed by police, suffering unsafe and unfair working conditions, abuse from clients, pimps and community members, experiencing problems with access to services like social, health and police and problems with access to banks or opening accounts.
- People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA)
POWA is a feminist women’s rights organisation that provides both services and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life. It provides services to survivors of sexual violence and its advocacy uses a feminist and intersectional analysis as the basis for action. Services include frontline services in shelters, counselling, legal advice, media outreach, training and development, and feminist research and knowledge production.
- Mosaic Women’s Healing and Support Centre
Established in 1993 in response to high levels of violence against women, Mosaic is an organisation that trains women and men from within the communities they serve to offer services aimed at addressing violence against women, domestic violence, sexual violence and improving women’s sexual and reproductive health. It is a community based NGO that focuses on preventing and reducing abuse and domestic violence, particularly for women and youth living in disadvantaged communities. Mosaic has been a strong supporter of the Stop Gender Based Violence Campaign to propose a National Strategic Plan to end gender based violence in South Africa.
- Sonke Gender Justice
Sonke’s vision is to have a world in which men, women and children can enjoy equitable, healthy and happy relationships, that contribute to the developments of just and democratic societies. Sonke Gender Justice works across Africa to strengthen government, vicil society and citizen capacity to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and Aids.
- Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC)
The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to end violence against women (Tshwaranang) is a registered NGO that was established in 1996, to promote and defend the rights of women to be free from violence and to have access to quality services. Their work is primarily focused on improving government accountability on policy and legislative reform, the delivery of services and increasing awareness about and access to justice for women and girls affected by violence.
- Gender Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU) UCT
The GHJRU is a research unit of UCT that unites scholars, practitioners and NGO’s to develop and implement innovative, interdisciplinary research and social interventions on social exclusion and violence in a range of social, political and institutional settings. They focus on foundational areas of gender-based violence, sexual and gender minority rights and reproductive rights. They aim to provide well-informed, evidence-based advocacy positions to support legal and policy reform in South Africa and similarly situated countries
- Centre for Law and Society (UCT)
The Centre for Law and Society (CLS) is an innovative multi-disciplinary centre in the Faculty of Law where scholars, students and activists engage critically with, and work together on, the challenges facing contemporary South Africa at the intersection of law and society. Through research, critical teaching and robust exchange, CLS aims to shape a new generation of scholars, practitioners and activists, and to build the field of relevant legal theory, scholarship and practice, that is responsive to our context in South Africa and Africa. The CLS Hub provides a supportive space for explosive debates around critical social-legal issues and is a space where students, scholars and activists can creatively engage in critical thinking and writing.
- Child Witness Institute (UPE)
The Child Witness Institute trains and sensitises stakeholders in the legal system on how to work appropriately and sensitively with child witnesses in court. They identify and address underlying patterns of abuse, violence and victimisation that lead to cases involving children. Through engagement with youth and community groups, intervening where necessary, they educate, inform and help break pervasive cycles of violence, abuse and exploitation. The institute works across borders and nationalities to address ignorance, indifference and insensitivity and thereby create lasting, meaningful change.
- Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a civil society organisation based at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. CALS is also a law clinic, registered with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, that connects the worlds of academia and social justice. CALS practices human rights law and social justice work with a specific focus on five intersecting programmatic areas, namely Basic Services, Business and Human Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender, and the Rule of Law. It does so in a way which makes creative use of the tools of research, advocacy and litigation, adopts an intersectional and gendered understanding of human rights violations, incorporates other disciplines (such as film and social work) and is conscious of the transformation agenda in South Africa.
- The Dullah Omar Institute (UWC)
The Dullah Omar Institute started its work under the name Community Law Centre, an organisation born out of the struggle against Apartheid. The Community Law Centre opened its doors in 1990 under the leadership Dullah Omar and played a major role in the negotiations towards a democratic South Africa. The DOI is a major contributor to policy formulation for South Africa’s constitutional order, and increasingly, elsewhere on the continent. Its Women and Democracy Initiative promotes citizenship and participation and supports other NGOs in making submissions to Parliament with strong focus on inputs to law and policy relating to gender empowerment.
- Greater Nelspruit Rape Intervention Project (GRIP)
GRIP provides confidential, sensitive and comprehensive trauma counselling along with practical assistance and support to help rape, sexual assault and domestic violence survivors successfully obtain necessary health services, prosecute offenders and recover physically, emotionally and mentally with immediate, on-location services in police stations and hospitals, and via extensive in-home post-assault services. It operates in 26 Care Rooms which are situated in 13 police stations, eight hospitals and five courts and maintains constant contact with survivors through home visits and individual one-on-one counselling.
- LifeLine and ChildLine South Africa
ChildLine in a Non- profit organisation that works to protect children from all forms of violence and create a culture of children’s rights in South Africa. They offer online counselling and telephone counselling for children up to the age of 18, and a toll-free crisis telephone counselling line that deals with hundreds of queries from children and adults. They offer training programmes and recruit volunteers to operate a national helpline line that provides an invaluable educative service, receives calls relating to issues and problems including abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), sexual problems and pregnancy, learning and educational problems, harassment and many more. The ChildLine Toll free number receives approximately 60000 to 90000 calls per month across all the provinces.
by Farhana Sarguro