New campaign shines light on gender-based violence, 365 days a year

12 December 2019 - 06:30 By Pathu Luvhengo
Minister Maite Nkoana–Mashabane, executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and 1st for Women CEO Robyn Farrell at the launch of the 365 Days of Light campaign.
Minister Maite Nkoana–Mashabane, executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and 1st for Women CEO Robyn Farrell at the launch of the 365 Days of Light campaign.
Image: 1st for Women

The brother of Anisha van Niekerk, who was killed alongside her partner Joey two years ago, says finding closure and healing has been a difficult process for the family.

The young married couple were brutally raped and killed on their plot in Mooinooi, in the North West, on December 10 2017. Their murder was masterminded by their neighbour, who wanted them to sell him their land.

“This is the second year since the incident occurred. It is still vivid in our memory,” said Wynand van Niekerk.

His slain sister and her partner feature in a video produced by insurance company 1st for Women, which has embarked on an ambitious campaign to draw attention to gender-based violence. The company has created 15 video tributes for 15 victims, which include footage from each of the 15 crime scenes.

The tribute video for Joey and Anisha van Niekerk, one of 15 produced for the launch of the 365 Days of Light campaign against gender-based violence.

The 365 Days of Light campaign is an effort to mobilise South Africans to play their part in ending gender-based violence and femicide. It has been launched by the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities, along with UN Women and 1st for Women, as an extension of the annual 16 days of activism campaign, which ended this week.

Besides the Van Niekerks, the victims highlighted by the campaign also include:

  • Chanelle Henning, a young mother who was murdered in November 2011 in Pretoria;
  • Lerato Moloi, who was raped and stoned to death in Naledi, Soweto; and
  • Clarissa Lindoor, a young mother and Stellenbosch University employee, who was beaten and stabbed to death in her home after an argument with her boyfriend.

The 15 videos were projected onto the side of The Leonardo in Sandton, the tallest building in Africa, at the launch of the 365 Days of Light campaign this week.

The company's marketing manager, Casey Rousseau, said the 1st for Women Foundation has contributed over R70m to various organisations fighting women abuse and helped over 90,000 survivors since being established in 2005.

Elaborating on the name of the campaign, Rousseau said women abuse is a dark subject. “When it's not reported, it stays in the dark. That’s why we’re committed to bringing it into the light and keeping it there. It is only with constant illumination that the subject will remain in focus – not just for 16 days but for 365 days a year, every year,” she said.

Given Sigauqwe from Sonke Gender Justice welcomed the campaign. “The 16 days of activism campaign has been running for well over 25 years in South Africa, but women continue to die at an alarming rate - in many instances at the hands of intimate partners,” he said.

"There is a growing sense that there is no accountability for many of these heinous crimes.

"The good thing about this initiative is that it highlights the subject that people tend to shy away from because it is so brutal and unreal."


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