‘Ac­knowl­edge the cri­sis’

GEN­DER-BASED VI­O­LENCE: 16 DAYS OF AC­TIVISM TO #GETOURCOUN­TRYBACK

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye – jen­nif­[email protected]­i­zen.co.za

Group calls for 365 days of ad­vo­cacy and urges peo­ple to be hon­est and bru­tal about cri­sis.

Call­ing out me­dia, gov­ern­ment and fel­low South Africans for be­ing driven by pa­tri­ar­chal ide­olo­gies on gen­der-based vi­o­lence (GBV), sur­vivor and ac­tivist Rosie Motene said the rad­i­cal cam­paign launch­ing to­day by Peo­ple Op­pos­ing Women Abuse (Powa) would urge peo­ple to be “hon­est” and “bru­tal” about the cri­sis.

Motene, an out­spo­ken mem­ber of Powa, was an in­te­gral part of the #MeToo move­ment in the SA en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try last year after com­ing out as one of the women who al­legedly fell vic­tim to a prom­i­nent pro­ducer’s sex­u­ally preda­tory en­coun­ters.

She ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual abuse as a young woman in univer­sity and it had taken her 12 years to be­come com­fort­able talk­ing about it with­out cry­ing.

“I am a sur­vivor of rape and phys­i­cal abuse. I have at­tached my per­sonal [life] to GBV for nearly two decades as abuse has no colour, so­cial rank­ing or ed­u­ca­tion.

“Work­ing as an ac­tivist for 17 years, there is al­ways neg­a­tive mes­sages and com­ments as peo­ple don’t like to face facts, it’s part of the job,” Motene said.

“In my per­sonal ca­pac­ity I’ve been threat­ened, called names ... the works. There is al­ways back­lash in our line of work as many want to si­lence us.

“Me­dia, gov­ern­ment and cit­i­zens need to shift their ide­olo­gies around abuse.

“They have been driven by pa­tri­archy and, there­fore, un­der­mine the pain and trauma that abuse causes.

“We are known as the rape cap­i­tal of the world.

“Our coun­try is in a cri­sis. The fact that Powa has been in op­er­a­tion for 40 years – that’s proof that we needed an in­ter­ven­tion 40 years ago.

“We need to be hon­est and in that hon­esty be bru­tal as that’s what GBV is.”

Us­ing rad­i­cal demon­stra­tions of their cam­paign, us­ing phrases like “We are all cit­i­zens of the Repub­lic of Sex­ual Abuse” in their art ex­hi­bi­tion in Rose­bank ahead of the an­nual 16 days of Ac­tivism for no Vi­o­lence Against Women and Chil­dren, Powa said it hoped to cre­ate aware­ness about how bad the cri­sis had be­come.

Powa said it was time gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to deal with the issue. This in­cluded mak­ing the days of ac­tivism 365 days a year and en­sur­ing all gov­ern­ment de­part­ments had an ac­tion plan where gen­der-based vi­o­lence was con­cerned.

Stress­ing that the coun­try’s rate of sex­ual vi­o­lence and rape is among the high­est in the world, Powa coun­selling ser­vices man­ager Jeanette Sera said: “We know all this.

“What is go­ing to change? Why do we preach to the con­verted?

“Th­ese are just some of the re­sponses we get, es­pe­cially around 16 days of ac­tivism … and, yes, this ex­hi­bi­tion is to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the me­dia: me­dia that are as be­lea­guered and de­feated as you are with all this news.

“But our fo­cus is on the stu­dents that we are invit­ing in, that we will be host­ing, con­vers­ing and de­bat­ing with. Be­cause while the adults are tired, the youth are not.”

Pub­lic re­la­tions com­pany Black River FC’s ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor Roanna Wil­liams said: “We could not watch another 16 days of ac­tivism and say or do noth­ing. This ex­hi­bi­tion is a cre­ative ex­pres­sion of re­al­ity.

“It is also a space and place to en­gage and de­bate and to cel­e­brate he­roes such as the [non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions] Powa, who are on the front line.

“We want to ex­pose stu­dents to the be­hav­iours that have led us, and then we want to share the NGOs that are do­ing so much and who need their [our] help to #GetOurCoun­tryBack.”

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