The start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children has been commemorated with a prayer service by the Thusanang Trauma Centre in Lichtenburg, North West.

The ceremony was aimed at praying for those women and children who have been victims of abuse.

Sixty cases of rape have been reported to the police in Lichtenburg since January this year.

Thusanang Trauma Centre Project Manager, Christina Pretorious, says women and children are often the targets of violence during the festive season.

“Things happen – and people don’t report to the police. We as parents don’t talk to our children to stop moving around in the night. We must also teach our daughter children that, if they go out with friends, they must be very careful what they drink and who they are talking to,” says Pretorius.

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Meanwhile, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg thousands have gathered to pray for unity, poverty and an end to violence against women and children.

Religious leaders are guiding people in praying for an end to the scourge, using prayer in the hopes of mending the problems facing the country.

The religious leaders say they are speaking out against violence against women and children – under the theme, #HearMeToo.

Minister for Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini on Saturday urged the public to heed the call by breaking the silence and reporting cases of abuse and violence against women and girls.

Watch National day of prayer below: