Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana says the plight of women and children can no longer be an afterthought if South Africa is to solidify the gains of democracy.
Kekana on Monday hosted a gender-based violence (GBV) dialogue in Parys, Free State, in partnership with Ngwathe Local Municipality to raise awareness of violence against women and children.
Kekana said this year's 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign has demonstrated that every day should be a day of activism against non-violence, especially against women.
"One hopes that the activism we have seen has made men in particular understand that patriarchy bestows unto them unjust privilege, which must be constantly assessed and checked.
"It has also become clear that the sexual exploitation of women knows no boundaries... Abuse happens whether you are at church or work... whether you are black or white, and in the case of minors, whether you are a boy or girl," the Deputy Minister said.
Kekana commended all organisations, including civil society and South Africans, who took part in the #Totalshutdown march in August, making a clarion call on the country's justice system to be sensitive to gender and sexual abuse.
"The 'My body is not a crime scene' rallying call is instructive. It says to our prosecutor, legal scholars and practitioners, the violation of minors and women's bodies cannot be viewed exclusively through the lens of a typical criminal justice system," she said.
Kekana visited a Victim Empowerment Centre in Parys, where she engaged with survivors of GBV and handed over a TV set.
Don't drop charges against perpetrators
Police captain Cecilia Mabuya encouraged survivors and the community to report cases and not drop charges later because they are financially dependent on the perpetrators.
"If they don't report cases, we wouldn't know how widespread the problem is. We always ensure that we treat every case reported as confidential."
Sister Rooikie Makatsa from Parys Hospital urged sexual violence survivors to seek medical attention within the first 72 hours of the incident, so that they can get medication to protect them from contracting either HIV or sexually transmitted infections.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign takes place from 25 November to 10 December 2018.
This year's campaign was observed under the theme #HearMeToo: End Violence against Women and Children!
The campaign is not viewed as a stand-alone event. It is another leg of the #356Days of Activism Campaign and #CountMeIn, which aims to mobilise members of society, especially men, to join hands with government in the fight to curb violence against women.