Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma at the Closing Ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign Mitchell's Plain, Western Cape, Friday, 10 December 2004

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool,
Members of Parliament,
MECs and MPLs,
The Mayor of the Cape Town Unicity, Noma-India Mfeketo
Community Leaders,
Distinguished Guests,

We meet today, on International Human Rights Day, to mark the end of a highly successful campaign, which brought together many sectors of our people, united in the quest for a free and more secure environment for our women and children.

Allow me, from the outset, to congratulate all our people, in all sectors and in all communities, on the highly successful 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children.

Let me hasten to add that we are gathered today to officially close the 16 Days campaign, but definitely not to end the programme and action against the scourge of violence against women and children. We are today reviewing our successes, with a view to building on those in working to eradicate this scourge, over the 365 days of next year.

There were many angles to the campaign this year. One of these was the building of 16 houses countrywide for abused and elderly women in society. The houses are being handed over to beneficiaries in all provinces. Some provinces have decided to build 16 houses each which, indicates the extent of the commitment and seriousness. In addition, we have witnessed a highly effective postcard pledge campaign. We congratulate all South Africans who signed the postcard pledges, enabling the return of 225 987 of these postcards.

Mphakathi wonke, lezizinsuku eziyishumi nesithupha ezidlulile zisinikeze ithuba lokubhekana ngqo nalenkinga yokuhlukunyezwa kwabesimame nezingane. Njengoba sihlangene lapha ukuzovala lomkhankaso wezinsuku eziyishumi nesithupha, sifanele sizinikele ekusebenzeni kakhulu kunakuqala, ukulwa nodlame olubhekiswe kwabesifazane nezingane. Lomkhankaso ophela namhlanje ube yimpumelelo emangalisayo, okukhombisayo ukuthi abantu baseNingizimu yonke abahambisani nokuhlukunyezwa kwabesimame.

Sibazwile omama nabantwana bechaza usizi lwabo ezimbizweni, emihlanganweni eyahlukahlukene, emaphephandabeni, komabonakude nasemisakazweni.

Other women stated their views via the Internet, the safe rooms at police stations, clinics and courtrooms, and through the various creative arts initiatives across the country, as well as in the print and electronic media.

Women have spoken and the message was loud and clear. Domestic violence must stop, and the abuse of women and children must come to an end.

In closing the 16 days campaign, we need to now plan to take this struggle forward by working to strengthen the instruments we have that can protect women and children. We have to continue popularising the rights of all citizens as enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights in order for all of us to make the Constitution a living and meaningful document. All in our society must be conscientised about these rights, including our children, from an early age, for us to build a caring and humane society.

The emphasis should also continue to be on action. We have, as Government, adopted the Service Charter for Victims of Crime in South Africa, commonly known as the "Victims' Charter", which contains what we call the "seven rights for victims" , and which will empower women to report perpetrators to authorities without fear of reprisals.

The Victims' Charter and the Minimum Standards on Service for Victims of Crime deal with rights to fairness, to dignity and privacy; to offer and receive information; to protection; as well as to assistance, compensation and restitution. We believe that this is not only a progressive practical step, but also a landmark one.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me reiterate the need for us to intensify the campaign and action, and most importantly, to work at rooting out the causes of abuse and not deal only with the symptoms. This matter was also discussed by delegates at the Moral Regeneration Movement conference last week.

The MRM seeks to bring together government and all sectors to develop a national consensus on positive values to embrace, as well as to promote ethical values in line with our value system as enunciated and enshrined in our country's Constitution.

One of the key messages that the MRM, and indeed all of us are communicating and promoting, is that let us not just address the symptoms and manifestations of abuse, but also the underlying value system of male dominance that sustains that abuse. Religious, traditional and social values that regard men as superior to women and women as perpetual minors must be exposed as immoral with no space in our constitutional dispensation, and in our vision of a moral society.

Secondly, men can be part of the solution, and not mainly part of the problem. The struggle for gender equality cannot be fully won without constructive male involvement. The majority of men in our communities are not abusers. Therefore, men's initiatives that seek to fight women abuse and promote gender equality need to be supported.

We must also emphasise that breaking the silence is not a disgrace, and women and children must speak out against abuse.

Ladies and gentlemen, the role of the mass media is very important in this campaign. The Media Monitoring Project has already undertaken substantial research; especially with regard to changes in the way women and child abuse have been reported in the media over the last seven years.

Among the positive changes reported is the shift away from reporting cases of abuse from a male perspective, which tended to entrench both the abuse and the victim status of women.

Other trends include greater coverage and awareness of gender-based violence. According to the report 63% of female journalists are now reporting on abuse as opposed to less than 5% in 1998.

There are also increases in the number of women who speak out, and considerably more information is currently being made available about victims, aid organisations, guidelines and advice about coping with abuse. We acknowledge the positive contribution of the mass media in this campaign.

The challenge for the media, in this regard, as with all of us, is to sustain the high level of reporting of gender-based violence beyond the 16 Days, using the levels of the campaign as the barometer.

Manene namanenekazi, ngalesisikhathi senjabulo, kufanele sizimisele ukubasiza labo abahlukunyezwayo. Siyazi ukuthi lesisikhathi senjabulo sihambisana kakhulu nophuzo oludakayo kanye nezidakamizwa. Lokhu kunokwenza ukuhlukunyezwa kwabesimame nezingane kunyuke ngezinga. Imindeni, izihlobo nabangani abangesabi ukubiza amaphoyisa basize labo abahlukunyezwayo. Isikhathi senjabulo masingaphenduki esosizi emakhaya ethu.

Uhulumeni ngeke akubekezelele ukushaywa nokuhlunyezwa kwalabo abangenamandla okuzivikela, izingane kanye nabesifazane. Masibambisaneni kuloludaba.

Finally, let us remember that the family is the most important institution in our society. Peace in our families and communities can only be fully sustained if women and children are not abused, if they live in a caring and loving environment in which they can develop and thrive.

Once again, congratulations to all the organisers and co-ordinators in government and civil society. This has been a highly impressive and very effective campaign. We also congratulate all South Africans for such dedication and commitment.

I wish you all a new year filled with joy, success and blessings.

I Thank You.

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