#100MenMarch Against Abuse
On 10 July 2018, hundreds of South African men and women gathered together in Pretoria in a unified march against violence toward women and children. While their chants of “no means no” reverberated through the blocks surrounding Madiba Street and the Union Buildings, a symbolic torch was lit to commemorate the day and to end the tolerance of gender-based violence.
All the attending protestors signed a pledge to “break the culture of violence”. But do we really understand what this entails? It does not simply mean that you pledge never to exert violence on women and children, it means you will actively participate in the elimination of such violence. Your pledge means that you will not remain silent, or turn a blind eye when confronted with abuse, you will stand up against the perpetrator and assist the victim.
Breaking the culture of violence also means finding the inner strength to help yourself. If you are the perpetrator or you become the perpetrator at some stage of your life, your pledge demands that you help yourself and your victim by seeking the help you need and deciding to “break the culture”.
As a victim, you cannot sign a pledge to break the culture of violence and not extend such pledge to yourself. Despite how difficult it may be, you need to help yourself in the same way you would help another victim of gender-based violence. Even when it seems like there is nothing you can do to save yourself from such a situation, there are always people and organisations who are willing and able to help. Free yourself and set the example for the next woman or child who may find themselves subject to violent abuse.
Taking this pledge is not limited to the attendees of the march, any person can pledge to break the culture of violence and stand by it. It is a promise you make to yourself not to be a perpetrator, not to be a victim and not to turn a blind eye. With every person who pledges to break this culture, our country is one step closer to becoming a safe and harmonious community of mutual respect and understanding.
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