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16 days of activism: Mkabayi


09 February 2018

On the 25 of October 2017 Mkabayi team embarked on an international campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence aimed at challenging violence against women. In response to this, Mkabayi team organised and conducted activism campaigns with all their groups which are aimed at addressing issues of violence against women in their contextual communities. Mkabayi also partnered with local community based organisations in some other events that are part of 16 days of activism campaign.

One of them include Iziko Lama Gama which is an arts and culture community based organisation that is primarily concerned with empowering local artists at Umlazi community. Their participation on Sixteen days of activism was to address women issues in an artistic way which involve poetry, music dance and other forms of art.
The manner in which the events were organised was fascinating as it was a different way from the usual methods of addressing women and children issues which is about empowering women to take a stand against their own abuse. The event took place in three different forms: first being for men only where they discuss on their own about women issues and role they can play in ensuring women and children safety, the second was for women only and they also discuss issues around women abuse.

The third event needed a much more open space because it was a compose of both men and women. The purpose of this setting was so that both the perpetrators and the subjects of violence have a discussion on gender based violence and together find solutions on the roles men in particular can play in decreasing incidences of violence directed to women.
This was a better platform to address the issue of women because men are usually partially seen in events that are specifically organised for issues of GBV. The discussion was very effective because we got to hear from both side of the subjects and perpetrators their take on GBV. During this session there was a lot of argument that arose as people tried to defend their sex.

Women were robustly challenging men with different primary stigmas that perpetuate GBV for instance gender roles, social norms and gender equality. Even though it is not easy to alter the mind set of people regarding their beliefs especially when those believes are embedded in a person’s growth and culture but through robust and rational engagement the people began to agree with one another on certain social stigmas. For instance, that both men and women in a relationship are equal and no one is bound to succumb to the other.
There was a small debate between Mkabayi team representatives and the men side representatives. The debate arose from a view that women somehow play a role in being the subjects of violence. This notion was supported by that many women don’t value men who don’t beat them because of the traditionally internalised idea of the definition of a man.

Some important quotations from the panel.

“women perpetuate abuse by not reporting for the first time of abuse because if you tolerate it for the first time it becomes likely to be persistence because you have shown you can understand”
“women do not ask themselves to be beaten or raped so it is not true they play some role in GBV”
“women should not be blamed for rape because of how they wear, even long ago women wore only a goat skin on their private part and the whole body remained exposed but there were no cases of rape”

The measurement of an effective dialogue is the extent to which each part is willing to change as a result of it. However, what we witnessed on the 2nd of December is a stepping stone for changing people perception about women. The struggle for women emancipation relies on the ability of both parties to involving in a robust discourse just as how it happened on black emancipation in South Africa.


Menzi Hlabisa: Knowledge Officer

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