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Markham, Relate join forces in the fight against GBV in SA

To mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (GBV), Markham has joined forces with not-for-profit social enterprise Relate to launch the Help! Don't Harm campaign.

The campaign is aimed at educating and inciting a change in widespread disturbing attitudes related to GBV, especially in a year of heightened awareness around victims of abuse in South Africa. However, despite growing consciousness – and President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring gender-based violence a national crisis – femicide, domestic abuse, sexual violence, harassment and prejudice persist and are in many instances engrained within the fabric of our society.

According to StatsSA, a similarly toxic pattern of attitudes towards domestic violence exists between people across the country, with comparably similar levels among both genders believing it is acceptable for a man to hit a woman.

Advocating and acting against gender-based violence

Markham and Relate say that their aim is to raise R100,000 for MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign that promotes men's active, equitable, non-violent involvement and responsibility as fathers and caregivers around the world. In South Africa, Sonke Gender Justice implements MenCare through educational sessions with fathers and couples to promote gender equality in the home and improve overall family well-being.

Markham will be making limited-edition Relate Help! Don’t Harm bracelets available at selected stores across the country during the 16 Days of Activism. In addition, a silent protest will be held in all national stores on 4 December 2019 from 9am to 9.10am, to show Markham's stance of condemning any form of violence against women and children. Stores will be closed for the duration of the protest.

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Markham’s head of marketing, Nicol Rademeyer, believes that South Africa’s culture of advocacy and desire for positive social change will assist the Help! Don’t Harm campaign reach its target.

“As an organisation, Markham is taking a stand against gender-based violence and abuse. We’re proud to be adding our voice in advocating and acting against gender-based violence in South Africa and around the world,” says Rademeyer, who adds that proceeds will be channelled to MenCare through Markham’s M.E.N CSI project.

“So many of us have family, friends and colleagues who have been and continue to be victims of violence and abuse. Our customers now have this wonderful opportunity to stand with us and show their support for Help! Don’t Harm, by wearing a bracelet and helping us to reach our target of raising R100,000 for gender-based violence prevention initiatives,” Rademeyer continues.

“It's important to acknowledge and encourage healthy and inclusive interpretations of masculinity that benefit families and communities around the country. Gender-based or violence in any form is unacceptable, be it physical or psychological, which is why we're working with MenCare to address and counter this ill of society.”

Public participation crucial in the fight against GBV

According to StatsSA's most recent Crime Against Women in South Africa report, the rate of murder of women is "unacceptably high compared to the global average". In addition, it was reported that 250 out of every 100,000 women were victims of sexual offences – a figure that ranks among the highest in the world.

Using data from the Victims of Crime Survey, StatsSA revealed that more than 10% of men and over 9% of women said that it is acceptable for a husband to hit his wife under certain circumstances, such as going out without telling her husband or arguing with him.

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Relate CEO Neil Robinson believes that the active participation of the public is crucial in changing such attitudes towards gender-based violence. “Awareness and education isn't simply about preaching to people – we all have a responsibility to become involved and influence our fellow South Africans for the better,” Robinson argues.

“16 Days of Activism is a vitally important campaign that every member of society needs to buy into, not only for this specific number of days but for every day throughout every year. Our bracelets are made by senior citizens from desperately impoverished backgrounds, many of who have been victims of gender-based violence within their communities. This is a scourge that seems to endure from one generation to the next.”

Relate has previously worked with Markham and TFG on a variety of social awareness and upliftment campaigns, including the 18Twenty8 and PinkDrive bracelet initiatives. To date, this philanthropic partnership has raised over R560,000 and sold nearly 34,000 bracelets.

Rademeyer and Robinson firmly believe that the Help! Don’t Harm call to action will inspire ordinary South Africans to champion the cause and work towards a safer, equal society for women and children.

“Buying a bracelet is a sincere and credible way of playing a role and making a difference in the fight against gender-based violence in our country. Now is the time that we as South Africans must take a collective stand, make a difference and stamp out abuse against women and children once and for all,” Robinson concludes.

For more information about the 16 Days of Activism, visit www.gov.za/16DaysofActivism2019.
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