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16 Days how can you get involved?

It is estimated that every year 500 000 people are raped in South Africa. Women's groups estimate that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in this country, while the South African Police Services estimate that a woman is raped every 36 seconds. Either way, a chilling statistic, and one that only begins to paint a picture of the violent crimes committed against women and children in our country every day. No country in the world is in greater need of intervention to prevent gender-based violence.

Every year, countries around the world participate in the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. In South Africa during this time our government, civil society organisations and the business sector work together to make people aware of the impact of violence on women and children, and to act against abuse. The campaign is far reaching and is discussed at the highest levels of government and business, but every individual in the country can take part in raising awareness and making a difference. Here are some of the ways that you can get involved.

Wear a white ribbon
A white ribbon is a symbol of peace. By wearing one you stand in solidarity with abused women and children and with those fighting for their cause. 16 Days of Activism is about raising awareness so this simple act goes a long way to showing that you support the campaign.

Volunteer at an NGO
There are many organisations that support abused women and children. Do an internet search for abused women shelters in your area and you should get results or look at the list of charities supported by Sisters with Blisters for more ideas on organisations to support.  Phone the different organisations and find out how you can help.

If you would like to get involved in the longer term you can look into the counseling courses offered by organisations like Life Line and then volunteer at their call centres.

You can also get involved in community policing forums, which aim to prevent crime by opening up the lines of communication and planning between the police and the local community.

Donate money to worthy causes
Any donation no matter how small makes a difference to these organisations. Or you can make a contribution to the Foundation for Human Rights, which takes donations during the 16 Days campaign and distributes it to various non-governmental organisations. You can call 011 339 5560/1/2/3/4/5 to contribute.

Speak out against woman and child abuse
The simplest act is sometimes the hardest. Encourage victims to talk about abuse and to get help. Report child abuse to the police you have to get involved, no matter what the circumstances. Help your sons to understand right from wrong and discuss abuse with them.

You can call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline on 0800 150 150 or visit the People Opposing Women Abuse website for help or information.

Final word
Positive results from this global campaign are sorely needed in South Africa. By playing a part no matter how small you can help to make a difference to a crime that touches us all.

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