A Torch of Peace has been lit to mark the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, which will kick off on 25 November.
The torch was lit at the Union Buildings on Tuesday, by the Deputy Minister for Provincial and Local Government, Nomatyala Hangana.
Lighting the torch, which symbolises the fight to end violence against women and children, the deputy minister said a lot of ground work has been laid in preparing the country for the daunting fight against violence.
She said societal awareness about problems such as child abuse; domestic violence as well as violence against women in general have increased considerably.
According to a study done by the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) last year, found that about 33 percent of South Africans were aware of the 16 Days Campaign compared to the 16 percent in 2003.
Since 1999 there has also been incredible growth in partnership between the government and private sector with all parties throwing their weight behind the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
"This has had a number of positive consequences such as that the joint effort enabled us to raise some of the required funds for a number of non-governmental and community based organisations dealing with victims of gender violence and child abuse."
The 16 Days Campaign was launched in 1999 as part of government efforts to rally citizens against the high levels of violence directed at women and children, which has been prevalent in the communities.
Among the objectives of the campaign is to uphold the rights of citizens and restore the dignity of the most vulnerable members of society.
The major goal of the campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges posed by societal attitudes and practices that continue to perpetuate gender based violence and child abuse.
This year's campaign is themed "Don't Look Away, Act Against Abuse".
She said evidence showed that the abuse of alcohol and drugs contributed towards the high levels of women and child abuse as well as the spread of HIV and AIDS.
"This is the most difficult part of the campaign because it requires the change of heart as well as their behaviour, it is something that cannot be dealt with in terms of policy formulation or by simple enacting laws.
"This is also the message that we have been carrying out to people everywhere we go and it is the same message that we have also been conveying to the people on the farms as part of the farm workers programme that we have undertaken in the last two years," Ms Hangana said.
Among the achievements of the 16 Days Campaign since its inception was getting more men to support the fight against violence directed at woman and children, which culminated in the Million Men March held from various provinces with the main event held in Bloemfontein in November last year.
Ms Hangana acknowledged the support from business and contributions made by the private sector towards the 16 Days Campaign.
"This indicates that if we continue to work together, there will be nothing that can defeat us, lot of work still awaits us if we are to win this war and it is therefore, important that we continue the fight beyond the normal 16 Days period but push it throughout the year as part of the 365 days programmes in order for us to consolidate on the successes we are making," she said. - BuaNews