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The 16 Days of Activism - No Violence Against Women

The 16 Days of Activism: No Violence Against Women is an international campaign that takes place annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

During this time, the South African Government runs a 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which aims to increase awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children. It also aims to use this campaign to mobilise all sectors of society to act against abuse.

Government is committed to building a caring and peaceful society, which protects its women and children from all forms of violence.  By supporting this campaign, thousands of South Africans have also helped to increase awareness of abuse and building support for victims and survivors of abuse.

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Do Not Harm Our Children - say South Africans.

Hitting children, (corporal punishment) is not part of Christianity, says The South African Council of Churches.  They have taken a stand and embarked on a campaign to promote respect for children and the use of positive discipline, instead of striking children or humiliating and embarrassing them. 

South Africa is a country with a great deal of violence and people sort out their problems and arguments violently.  By slapping, striking, burning, cutting, or shaking a child or any other form of physical abuse against children, we give the idea from an early age that violence is the right response to bad behaviour.

South African organisations have joined Save the Children Sweden to promote rights of children. They say evidence show that any form of violence does not work. Hitting (corporal punishment) only teaches kids that in order to solve a problem, powerful or stronger people can harm weaker or smaller people.

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Mangaung Maximum Security Private Prison

Like a scholarly gentlemen van Rooyen sits reading in Mount Gambia – the academic wing of  Mangaung Maximum Security Private Prison (MMSPP) prisons academic wing. 

Formerly illiterate, the ‘”respected” high ranking ex-‘Kaptein’ of the notorious ‘26 prison gang’, had never in his entire life opened a book, let alone entered a schoolyard.

It took precisely three months before he was reading in Afrikaans, his mother tongue. Nowadays he reads and writes fluently, lives in a ‘semi-private’ cell resplendent with pillows, mattress and duvets, and van Rooyen has been placed on the inmates advanced privilege level, having miraculously transformed his natural gift for criminality into that of a scholar.

The shrivelled convict smiles toothlessly his sunken cheeks receding further into his skull, “Ach, it’s still prison, but it’s the best I can do inside. In all the other prisons, nobody offered to teach me how to write or read. “It’s lekker.  I don’t even feel like smuggling dagga or belonging to a gang. I spend three hours every day studying at the school. Then I do my homework. . I am in Standard two now. Before leaving prison I am going to reach standard six.”

“When I get out, I will be due for pension and a quiet life. I am going to teach my son, who is currently in Pollsmoor, not to be the same as I used to be,” the emaciated 1.71 cm man says proudly. 

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Women Who Explode Seek Presidential Clemency

Maria Scholtz (42), Meisie Kgomo (41), Elsie Morare (34), Harriet Chidi (?) and Sharle Sebejan (33) have much in common with many women. 

They are victims of domestic abuse.

But, unlike most women, they are all serving long prison sentences for killing their abusive husbands.  

Their plight has been adopted by a group of women’s organisations that have consolidated forces and formed the Justice for Women Campaign (JWC). 

Now these women are forming South African legal history. In a pilot project the Centre For Violence and Reconciliation (CVR) sent an application to President Thabo Mbeki requesting a presidential pardon for Maria Scholtz, which is being followed by a further four applications.  This initiative is supported by the National Network on Violence against women and the Commission On Gender Equality. 

The threefold reason’s for the plea are obvious: These are not dangerous criminals. At the time the crimes were committed there was no judicial system in place to protect them; they suffered from chronic acute violent abuse. 

The women experienced a range of abuses - severe beatings, rape by their husbands as well as actual or threatened abuse of their children and them including psychological abuse (ranging from being locked up under house arrest and verbal insults.) 

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