Womxn holding up 'Silence Allows Violence' sign in a parking lot during 16 Days of Activism South Africa.

16 Days of Activism South Africa – Understanding and Contributing to the Campaign

16 Days of Activism South Africa – Understanding and Contributing to the Campaign

Introduction

Imagine a world where violence against women and children is not just a headline but a historical footnote. This is the vision that drives the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign. Running from November 25 to December 10, this campaign has become a pivotal moment in South Africa’s fight against gender-based violence (GBV). In this article, we delve into the essence of the 16 Days of Activism and its profound significance.

16 Days of Activism: The Campaign's Background

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign is part of a global United Nations campaign. It begins on November 25, the International Day of No Violence against Women, and concludes on December 10, Human Rights Day, symbolically linking violence against women and human rights and emphasizing that such violence is a violation of human rights.

Key Dates and Their Significance

  • 25 November: International Day of No Violence Against Women, marking the beginning of the campaign and spotlighting the urgent need to end violence against women and girls worldwide.
  • 29 November: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, recognizing the courage and contribution of women who stand up for human rights and gender equality.
  • 1 December: World AIDS Day, emphasizing the intersection of gender-based violence and health, particularly in the context of HIV/AIDS.
  • 3 December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, who are often at higher risk of experiencing GBV.
  • 10 December: International Human Rights Day, concluding the campaign with a global call to respect and uphold human rights, including the right to live free from violence.

16 Days of Activism South Africa: Understanding the Local Context

In South Africa, a country grappling with high rates of GBV, the campaign transcends an annual event; it’s a clarion call for sustained action. The campaign is at the heart of the government’s comprehensive 365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. This initiative integrates various efforts, collaborations, and partnerships across governmental and non-governmental sectors. It aims to create awareness, drive policy changes, and foster a national ethos of zero tolerance towards gender-based violence.

Empowering Actions Against Gender-Based Violence

  1. Learn and Share: Dive into understanding all about gender-based violence. It’s complex but crucial. Share what you learn with your friends and family. Here is a good resource from Safer Space to get a better understanding of GBV.  It starts by spreading awareness!
  2. Be There for Survivors: Sometimes, just being there to listen and support someone can make all the difference. If you know someone who’s been through it, just being a shoulder to lean on means the world. Encourage them gently to seek help if they need it, but remember, it’s their journey, and they’re in control. See some resources below that might help you or someone you know.
  3. Challenge the Norms: We’ve all heard those outdated sayings and seen unfair treatment, right? Let’s be the change-makers. Speak up against discrimination and stand up for equality in your circle. Every conversation counts, and you have the power to make people think and act differently. Caution: just ensure that your safety is prioritised.
  4. Create Safe Spaces: Whether it’s at your workplace, school, or even within our friend group, let’s make sure everyone feels safe and respected. Advocate for policies that protect everyone’s rights. Remember, a safe space is where we all thrive.
  5. Lend a Hand: There are so many phenomenal organisations out there fighting against gender-based violence. Have you ever thought about volunteering your time, donating money, or organizing a small fundraiser? Every bit helps, and together, our contributions can make a huge impact. Below are some organisations you can support.

Supporting South African NGOs During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Actively engage with organizations leading the battle against GBV by considering volunteering, donating, or even amplifying their mission through your networks. Your involvement, especially during the 16 Days of Activism and beyond, can create lasting change and bring us closer to ending gender-based violence. Some notable organizations include:

Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC):

  • Mission: Provides comprehensive services to women and children who are survivors of abuse, including crisis response, legal assistance, and job-skills training.
  • Phone: +27 21 633 5287
  • Website: www.saartjiebaartmancentre.org.za

TEARS Foundation:

  • Mission: Offers crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, and prevention education for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.
  • Helpline: 1347355#
  • Website: www.tears.co.za

The Frida Hartley Shelter:

  • Mission: Offers shelter and support to homeless women and children who have survived neglect, abuse, trauma, and homelessness, and aids young homeless mothers.
  • Phone: 011 648 6005
  • Website: www.fridahartley.org

People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA):

  • Mission: Provides shelters, counseling, and legal advice to GBV survivors, and engages in advocacy, community outreach, and feminist research.
  • Phone: 011 642 4345
  • Website: www.powa.co.za

Rape Crisis Centre:

  • Mission: Supports survivors of rape and sexual assault through counselling, court support, and community prevention strategies, aiming to reduce trauma and encourage reporting.
  • Crisis Line: 021 447 9762
  • Website: rapecrisis.org.za

Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development:

  • Mission: Focuses on preventing gender violence and empowering women who have been abused. Provides counseling, shelter services, and engages in awareness and advocacy.
  • Phone: 011 854 5804/5
  • Website: www.nisaa.org.za

Shukumisa:

  • Mission: A coalition working to address sexual violence and improve legislation, supporting a diverse range of communities, including those with disabilities and the LGBTI community.
  • Phone: 021 447 1467
  • Website: shukumisa.org.za

SOS Numbers: Essential Contacts for GBV Support

If you or someone you know needs to report gender-based violence or seek help, these numbers and websites can be lifesaving. Keep them accessible:

SAPS Crime Stop:

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre:

Stop Gender Violence Helpline:

Family and Marriage Society of South Africa (FAMSA):

  • Phone: (011) 975 7107
  • Website: FAMSA 

Childline:

National Crisis Line (Lifeline):

Having these numbers and websites at your fingertips can make a critical difference in urgent situations. Remember, reaching out for help is a brave and necessary step in the journey to safety and healing.

Conclusion

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence serves as a reminder that the fight against GBV is ongoing and requires our collective effort. In South Africa, where the impact of GBV is deeply felt, this campaign provides a platform for change, advocacy, and empowerment. Let us stand together in solidarity, advocating for a society where safety, respect, and equality are the norms, not only during these 16 days but every day.

Palesa Mashinini

Palesa Mashinini

About the Author: I am an advocate for personal safety, and I am passionate about all things personal development.

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Woman learning self-defence techniques

Standing Strong: Valuable Self-Defense Lessons from Nashali Alma’s Story

Standing Strong: Valuable Self-Defense Lessons from Nashali Alma’s Story

Introduction

Today, the importance of personal safety is felt by many. The challenges encountered by Nashali, a dedicated fitness enthusiast, serve as a powerful echo. One evening, while in her apartment’s gym, she faced an unexpected challenge. Recognizing a fellow resident struggling to enter, she assisted, only to confront an attempt at assault. The gym’s security system captured the incident, leading to the man’s arrest. This widely viewed incident underscores the importance of personal safety and preparedness. With empathy and care, we’ll discuss the lessons learned from her experience in this article. Viewer Discretion/Trigger Warning: The video captures Nashali’s courageous resistance against an attempted assault. It depicts actions like grabbing, bear hugs, and being pinned down. Nashali’s resilience shines as she escapes, but please be aware that the content can be unsettling for some. Click the video below to see what happened.

Verbal self-defence lessons as a de-escalation technique

Verbal self-defense, also known as verbal judo or verbal aikido, is a strategy and set of communication skills used to prevent, de-escalate, or end an attempted assault or any aggressive behaviour through the use of language. It’s about using words and body language to prevent or end a potentially harmful situation without resorting to physical violence. In Nashali’s case, we witness from the beginning her telling the attacker to back off, to not grab her, which was 100% in alignment with her body posture and movement.

Strength Isn't Just Physical

Beyond her physical strength, Nashali’s mental resilience was evident. Throughout the entire incident, she continued to fight her way out to escape and did not stop. She kept believing in her ability to defend herself. Why it’s important: Mental strength often plays an important role in critical situations. Physical strength is vital, but mental strength is the anchor that holds it all together. 

 

Trust Your Intuition

From the outset, Nashali’s instincts were on high alert. She was aware of her environment and as soon as she noticed him coming closer she stopped training, both her hands were free and she was facing the attacker. She noticed the attacker coming closer, not respecting her personal space and used both her hands to push him away and create distance. Shortly after, she grabs her phone with one hand while using the other hand to keep him at a distance. Why it’s important: Our intuition is a powerful tool and trusting it ourselves can be lifesaving, which goes far beyond self-defence lessons. 

 

Space is Your Friend

Nashali’s tactic of maintaining distance was crucial. She was able to use the workout bench to create space, giving her time to access her phone to call for help. Also, whatever opportunity she got she used to move and run away. She never stood still. Why it’s important: Having space between you and potential threats can be a crucial buffer, allowing you to think and act. A practical tip to adopt this mindset is to practice situational awareness. As you navigate your day, take brief moments to observe your surroundings, spotting potential tools that could help create space, offer defence, or alert nearby individuals. This practice trains your mind to spot immediate solutions.

Self-Defense Lessons: Basic Moves to Learn

Nashali was focused on ensuring her safety. By acting quickly and avoiding extended conflict, she reduced danger. With confidence, she used palm strikes, hammer punches, and her arms to maintain distance. Impressively, she even turned her phone into a self-defense tool, striking the attacker’s face and causing some injury. Sometimes everyday objects can be your allies in ensuring safety. Why it’s important: Basic self-defense techniques can be empowering. It’s like having a first-aid kit; you hope never to use it, but it’s comforting to know it’s there. In a world of uncertainties, being equipped with defensive skills offers a sense of control. In the video, we notice two simple actions – palm strikes and hammer punches. Just knowing these can help a lot. It’s not about how strong you are, but using what you know and trusting it. Every bit of learning helps. Below we have a short video showing what the difference between a punch, palm strike and hammer punch is.

Conclusion

Nashali Alma’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of willpower. As she said herself in the video; “as long as you don’t give up, you fight back, you show him that you are strong, that you are one to fight back and get out of that situation, I believe it’s possible”. After some research, we found out that Nashali teamed up with Youfit Gyms and instructor Jason Bleistein to teach self-defense classes. 

Her commitment to empowering others is a testament to her strength and resilience. Every step we take towards our safety, no matter how small, is a step towards empowerment. Whether learning a simple self-defense move or being more aware of our surroundings, every effort counts. 

 

How do you empower yourself and ensure your personal safety in your daily life? Share your tips and strategies with our community.

Palesa Mashinini

Palesa Mashinini

About the Author: I am an advocate for personal safety, and I am passionate about all things personal development.

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