Spotlight on women and children abuse

WOMEN'S rights groups in Cape Town and Durban have initiated a campaign to encourage individuals to start taking responsibility for attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate violence against women.

WOMEN'S rights groups in Cape Town and Durban have initiated a campaign to encourage individuals to start taking responsibility for attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate violence against women.

Initiated ahead of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, that kicks off on November 24, the campaign, supported by Project Concern International, aims to promote debate by bringing to the fore social norms that are believed to have kept the violence alive.

Campaign spokesperson Angela Aschmann said research found that men and women have normalised violence because of social norms that include accepting that beating up a woman is a sign of love or that the woman deserved it.

Aschmann said these beliefs and many others were common in all communities.

"While it mighty be hard to believe that so many men and women hold these views as normal, being able to reveal these norms is a big shift in addressing violence against women," said Lungile Memela, director of the Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women.

"Until now most programmes have focused either on putting in place legislation that protects women or provide treatment for survivors of abuse.

"To be able to tackle the issue at its root cause is a brave and significant step to drive change."

Cookie Edwards, director of the KZN Network on Violence Against Women said by identifying these beliefs and starting a debate, the campaign hoped to change attitudes where individuals came to a point where they stopped accepting violence against women as normal or acceptable.

"Because these attitudes and beliefs are so commonplace, many people think that violence is normal and that nothing can be done to stop this abuse.

"We hope that by opening this debate we can show that it is possible to change the way many people think about abuse against women," she said.

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