UNODC celebrates the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

9 December 2010. Every year UNODC supports the South Africa's Government to celebrate the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence by conducting a series of events to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women and children.

Since 1999, under the Austrian and Japanese Governments funded projects, "Establishment of a One Stop Center to Counteract Violence against Women and Children", and in partnership with the Department of Social Development of South Africa, UNODC established six one-stop centers in Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Gauteng. These centers provide a range of services to the survivors of violence (specifically women and children), as well as counseling and support groups for male perpetrators in order to break the cycle of violence. The first three of these have been already handed over to the Government. The one-stop center in Western Cape will be handed over in December 2010.

In addition, UNODC is also in partnership with the South African Department of Social Development implementing an EU funded project to strengthen Victim Empowerment in the country. Under this project there are numerous components focusing on awareness-raising in the communities about such issues as domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse. Awareness-raising has been done by UNODC, the Department of Social Development and civil society throughout the country.

In this spirit, UNODC supported various activities for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, in all nine Provinces. One of these activities was a peaceful march held on Saturday 27th Nov. at Sunnyside, Pretoria. Every year, a global campaign is launched to select a theme in consultation with women's human rights advocates worldwide. The selected theme for 2010 in South Africa was "speak-out against abuse."

The aim of the procession was to raise awareness on the plight of victims of gender-based violence. Sunnyside was earmarked because many of the domestic violence, trafficking of persons and other human rights violations happen in Gauteng; most young women are trafficked there with false promises of getting employment. Once there, they are forced to become sex workers.

The procession was held also to disseminate information (through pamphlets, flyers, posters, etc.) on the victim support services available in Sunnyside, like the Trauma Center established inside the Police Station and the One-stop center. Shopping malls around the area have also been targeted for awareness-raising through the dissemination of information to women and men, who are encouraged to seek help and report violence. The whole community has been encouraged to stand, to speak up against abuse and to be whistleblowers of violence that take place within that area.