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16 Days of Activism launched

Mfuleni police launched their 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children on Wednesday 28 November at the Wesbank Multipurpose Centre.

The launch featured talks by various key role-players in the fight against gender-based violence and child abuse.

Police invited a group of local men to an interactive session where pertinent issues such as rape, women and child abuse, as well as substance abuse were discussed.

Captain Nomathemba Muavha, spokesperson for Mfuleni police, kicked off the proceedings by stressing that the fight against all forms of abuse should be a key focus area throughout the year and not only for 16 days.

“Today we have invited the men from Mfuleni and Wesbank here to address the scourge of violence within our community. As police we need your assistance by working together to ensure that we stamp out abuse,” she said.

She emphasised the importance of the session in being a dialogue between men, as to their role and responsibilities within their communities. “Often we find that women don’t come forward to report abuse because they hope that their partner will change,” she said.

Social worker from the Department of Social Development (DSD), Jo-Ann Arnold, spoke about the influence of substance abuse on violence and crime in the community. “This is a dialogue. We must discuss how we are going to change this and prevent violence,” said Arnold. Her address sparked discussion among the men who raised their concerns about issues of reporting crime.

Arnold shared that the DSD’s theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is “#HearMeToo – End violence against women and girls”, which highlights that women and children have a voice and should be heard when coming forward with complaints related to abuse. “We are also here to hear your opinion and concerns as a community,” she said. “We need to stand up and take responsibility for our own homes and environment.”

Among the issues raised was the long distance between Wesbank and the Mfuleni Police Station. “Sometimes people want to report cases but because the police station is so far many decide not to,” said one of the men. “We need to have a mobile station here.”

The group of men also spoke about their concerns regarding child abuse and negligence within the community. “There are so many children not going to school, and there is so much neglect,” said another man.

Arnold admitted that these issues were not able to be addressed in one session, and she dedicated herself to a follow-up session with the men where further discussions could be had, as well as solutions sought.

“Men are to be the protectors, providers and peacemakers within our communities. They are also required to be proactive as a means of preventing these issues within our communities,” said Arnold.

Captain Aubrey McDonald from the Kuils River police’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) addressed the men regarding sexual violence. He particularly focused on common misconceptions such as that men cannot rape their wives and that men themselves cannot be raped.

He highlighted the biggest problems with the reporting of sexual offences, namely that rape is not reported immediately. “When investigating these cases, we require evidence and the only way to obtain it is for the victim to go for a medical examination,” explained McDonald. “The J88 form must then be completed by the doctor.”

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