Opening the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, Deputy President Baleka Mbete encouraged all victims of gender based violence to come out and name and shame the abusers.
Addressing the community of Beaufort West during the opening of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children held at Rustdene Stadium on Saturday, Deputy President Mbete said because of the victims' silence, criminals walk out free.
"Because we are a free country, you can't force a victim to open a case against the criminal, the success relies on the victims and families to expose the criminals, we need to be brave and courageous," the Deputy President said.
The campaign themed "Don't look away, Stop the Abuse", forms part of the 365 Days Programme and National Action Plan, which is a year-long of 365 days of action against gender based violence.
As part of this plan, during the campaign, which kicks off 25 November to 10 December, all stakeholders are expected to have programmes that focus on the elimination of violence against women and children.
Ms Mbete also encouraged the people not to look away when seeing or hearing a person being beaten up by their partner, "but rather you should go and investigate".
"When you see or hear your next door neighbour crying because she is being abused by her husband, don't act as if you don't hear, don't look away when a person is being killed.
"Not to be abused is a basic human right no matter whether it is your girlfriend or wife, we are compelled to act against the abuse at work, home or school," the Deputy President said.
She further urged the people to help the police catch the criminals who might even be a relative.
"There mustn't be a province or city where women live in fear because there is no support, let us say in one voice, enough is enough and be whistleblowers and report the abuse," Ms Mbete urged the public.
Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government, who is also the convener of the 16 Days of Activism, Nomatyala Hangana urged people to take advantage of the laws passed by the government in its bid to promote and protect the rights of woman and report all forms of abuse.
Among the legislation passed by government includes the promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000, Employment Equity Act 1998, Child Maintenance Act, Domestic Violence Act as well as Children's Act 2005 and Children's Amendment Act 2007, which seek to protect children from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
"There are many others covering almost every important aspect of life of the citizen and these are meant to ensure citizens enjoy a good life and also aim to redress all the imbalances created by the apartheid system," Deputy Minister Hangana said.
She also acknowledged the growth in partnership between government and the private sector, which has made it possible for the government to raise funds for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that deal with issues of gender based violence as well as those fighting the abuse of children.
A representative from the Non Governmental Organisation Badisa, which renders services to abused women and children to better their lives, Shireen Bowers who is a social worker told BuaNews that one of the challenges facing the organisation was the silence from the victims.
"They don't want to break the silence and other people are afraid to get involved, however, through 16 Days of Activism Campaign we encourage them to speak out and report the cases, if they don't, criminals can get away with the crime," Ms Bowers told BuaNews.
During the event, the Deputy President and Deputy Minister lit a peace torch, which was followed by a moment of silence in honour of the victims who had been failed by the society and the justice system. - BuaNews