It’s that time of year again (after the spending spree of Black Friday and before the party of the festive season) when the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse campaign gives the media the opportunity to serve up heart-wrenching, tear-jerking stories of women being beaten or murdered, or of children being abused.
It also gives you, the public, the opportunity to be outraged, sickened, or to demand changes.
Then, we all roll downhill into the “silly season” before year-end, looking forward to time off and to partying. And, to pushing that uncomfortable reality – of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society – to the back of our minds, safe until next year’s “16 Days” campaign comes around again.
Let’s, for a start, not even consider the fact that one of our most controversial – and some would say useless – ministers is in charge of the department supposed to look after women and children.
Bathabile Dlamini, whose handling of the Sassa grants system was atrocious, is now at the helm of the government’s “16 Days” efforts.
That is irrelevant, because it is not the job of any government to point out to people what is right and what is wrong.
Decent human beings – those who treat others with fairness, dignity and compassion – should know this instinctively. That we don’t know this in South Africa is tragic – but it is not up to the government to fix.
It is up to us – mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers – to ensure women (and children) are not treated as punchbags or targets. Before we try to teach our children this, though, we need to believe it, and to live it ourselves.
Otherwise, the “16 Days” will be a grim tag on the corpse of human rights.