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16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (I) – The Background And History

LESEGO NSWAHU NCHUNGA
Annually, around the world, over the period of November and 10 December, activities are carried out in commemoration of 16days of activism against gender-based violence of against violence on women and children.

The 16 days starts on International Human Rights Day, which is observed to commemorate the day on which in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The period ends on a day globally recognised as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is a day to shine a light on the violences suffered by women around the world, in order to highlight and the extent of the violence, as well as the inherent landscape of the problem, where the latter is often concealed, and not addressed.

The history of 16 days is fairly recent compared to the days that fall around and within it. There was therefore targeted significance in it’s being around that period.

The 16 days campaign was first established in South Africa in 1991, as an intervention and strategy towards creating a society that is free of gender based violence, and raises awareness on the negative impacts of gender-based violence, violence against women, as well as violence against children.

These negative effects have a bearing, not only on the individuals affected by violence, and not only on their families, but further on the community.

It is for this reason that interventions are often targeted towards the wider community of our society. The campaign for 16days was first initiated by the first Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)

Around and within the 16days, there are other significant international days, recognised by the global community. The first is International Children’s Day.

This day is referred to by some, as the International Day for the Protection of Children. The day was established by the United Nations in 1954 and promotes international unity in the protection of children as well as their rights and welfare, universally.

Although Children’s Day is commemorated by most, on the 1st June, Universal Children’s Day is the 20 November. The second is World AIDS Day. It is a day commemorated on the 1st December, to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic, and to mourn the lives lost to the syndrome.

On the 29th November, is the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, which is self-explanatory, and is here highlighted to focus on the thematic area of women’s rights.

This is critical as is a day

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that specifically recognises women who often put their own lives on the front-lines of human rights advocacy. These women face attacks, often for the types of rights that they defend.

For Botswana, in particular, the recognition and acknowledgment of the 16days is quite critical. 16 days falls shortly before the festive season.

Recent patterns have illustrated that during public holidays, crime rate is much higher. Amongst the crimes usually observed very specifically over these periods, are crimes of sexual violence including rape and indecent assault, as well as assault and intimate partner violence.

Over the past number of years, the incidents of reported cases has been steadily increasing.At the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), earlier this month, at the Nairobi Summit, the world community decided on a number of commitment categories. The 5th Commitment Category  derives from Gender-Based Violence, and calls for “zero sexual and gender-based violence”.

The commitment extends beyond sexual and gender-based violence to include zero harmful practices, zero early child, early and forced marriage, as well as zero female genital mutilation.

It further extends to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls, in order to realise all individuals’ full socio-economic potential.

This piece is the forbearer of the series that will follow. This column is committed to addressing social justice matters, and fully unpacking them, or question them as is necessary.

As part of this year’s campaign, all pieces to be published over the period of 16 Day of Activism will align themselves with the campaign.

The theme for the 16days of the year 2019 is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape.” Leading up to the next few articles, it is necessary that we be reminded of a number of facts. First, that rape is not a form of sex! For sex to be said to be sex, there has to have been consent.

Consent must be “prior, free, informed and full” and it can be withdrawn at any point! And finally, what a person means when they say no, is exactly that, “NO!” Their no is therefore not an opportunity to negotiate them to a yes, or to harass them to a yes, or to manipulate them to a yes.



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