The idea of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children seems crazy to me.
When what we obviously need is 365.25 days of Activism for No Violence against women and children. But i get it. Because of the state and nature of the extremes of violence that are happening towards women and children, just drawing some attention and mobilising as many people as possible for more of a bite-sized chunk of time seems realistic.
i would expect that anyone who takes 16 days of activism against women and children seriously, will more than likely continue to take it on as a life value and mission. Once you have seen you cannot unsee.
So let’s be willing to have our eyes opened, knowing that it is not going to be easy or fun and more than likely going to gut punch us and smash us in the emotions. By following @16DaysZA on the Twitterer or the hashtag #16DaysOfActivism we can start to do some serious listening and learning.
Origins of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children
The dates that have been chosen are not accidental. i read on the Twitterer that 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children takes place 25 Nov (Int Day of No Violence against Women) to the 10 Dec (Int Human Rights Day) which seems as appropriate as you can get.
But what can we do? To a problem that seems so overwhelming and so out of control? Well, to do nothing is just not acceptable. So let’s all commit to starting somewhere and chipping away at the problem in every way we have available to us:
- Spend time reading though the @16DaysZA account on the Twitterer and following the hashtag #16DaysOfActivism – lots to read and learn from and share. Share articles or blogs like this one that raise awareness of the issues and invite people to do the same. Use the spaces you are already in to talk about these things.
- For men, i recently produced a series of tips looking at 40 ways that we can seek to be better men [and have a better understanding and definition of what that means]. While the tips were not written specifically with abuse or violence towards women and children in mind, so many of them touch on aspects that speak to those things. Have a read through them and work on the ones that relate to you.
- The term ‘Toxic Masculinity’ was formed as a result of how society and the media has defined a man in so many ways that are poisonous to women and children who share spaces with men. We have to be talking about these things with the other men in our lives. It should not need to take another Uyinene Mrwetyana tragedy to happen before we decide to mobilise on this. We have to remember how we showed up at the gatherings and added our voices to the calls for things to be difference. We need to keep showing up.
- We have to adopt a #NotOnOurWatch mentality that shows itself in a daily commitment to interrupt moment of violence towards women and children that range from a wolf whistle in the streets to an inappropriate ‘joke’ or video in our dad’s or sport team’s whatsapp group to an altercation we see happening in front of us at a restaurant. i read on Facebook about an incident that happened this week with a woman in a fast food restaurant who was assaulted in a queue and despite there being a crowd around her, no-one intervened. We have to start intervening! We have to be brave in our online and offline spaces and find the voice to say, “That is not okay. Please stop doing it.” When more than one of us responds in this way it becomes easier. The power of positive peer pressure.
And i’m sure there is a lot more we can do. Why not begin by asking some of the women in your life what they would like to see you do during these 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children…
And if you think you are alone in this, be inspired by the story of tens of thousands marching in France and Italy against violence to women.
Raising a generation who will not go there
As parents there is a special call and opportunity to use this time well. Talking to your children [especially your boys!] about violence towards women and children may seem like a daunting thing, but this is an opportunity to shape and mould and invite the young men you are raising to be better.
Ask them about things they have seen at school or in the streets. Share with them some ways they can act if they see something that doesn’t feel right. Let them know that they can always come and speak to you about any of this stuff at any time.
Don’t just hope for the best because you feel awkward about it. If you don’t feel adequately equipped, there are enough people out there who do this stuff really well and would love to share their ideas with you. Just ask.
Here are three articles with some super helpful ideas to get you going:
How to talk to kids about Sexual Abuse – Caroline Bologna
Talking to your kids about Sexual Assualt – Rainn.org
Ten Ways to teach your child the skills to prevent Sexual Abuse – Natasha Daniels