We are almost exactly one week into the government’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign.
And after years of doing this, we are no better for it.
In fact, the campaign has almost become an invitation for men to victimise women even more during this time.
For many years as a news journalist and broadcaster, I have seen a sudden spike in violence against women during this time especially.
It’s almost as if the news stories embolden and energise evil men into pouncing even harder and more violently than ever before.
It has me wondering about the effects the graphic news detail has on our society.
But that’s a thought for another day.
Right now I’m concerned with the ineffectiveness of government’s plans and campaigns.
A few weeks ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide.
Government already has what it calls a comprehensive 365 Days of Activism plan around the same issue and on International Human Rights Day next week (when the 16 Days campaign ends), government plans to launch its 365 Days Behavioural Change Campaign.
These are all wonderful ideas with lofty goals, but do they really reach the senses of those who need to hear it the most?
I might be wrong, but I get the sense that violent men who prey on women don’t necessarily pay attention to campaign messaging.
And if they do, it obviously doesn’t inspire them to change their behaviour.
But it’s not just them, it’s some of government’s very own frontline staff who remain ignorant about the goals and values.
I still hear stories about police officers who laugh at sex workers wanting to report being sexually assaulted and robbed, or officers who ignore pleas for help from vulnerable women.
In many of these cases, lives could have been saved, if only a cop was more interested in the messages his president is trying to send.
I find this being particularly true in rural areas, where a lack of basic resources exacerbates the problems.
So clearly intensive training and re-education needs to be a starting point for government’s own employees.
And then we need to look ahead at the generations of boys who are being exposed to violence today, and how that is being internalised.
Because if there isn’t a counselling programme of some sort to balance out the impact of the societal trauma and constant news stories of rape and murder, then it’s simply going to keep on feeding into the normalisation of it.
That is another thing I find governments are not very good at - creative long-term planning, as in generational long term.
I’m not sure we can change our present circumstances.
But affecting a future that we won’t be around to witness, is true impact and humanitarian philanthropy. And that we CAN do!