‘Acknowledge the crisis’
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM TO #GETOURCOUNTRYBACK
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.”