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South Africa: The Importance Of “Telling Our Own Stories” #Vaw

Names from the top: Nangamso Bomvana, Vuyolwethu Ntunguntwana, Chizoba Mkhwanazi, Simnikiwe Sawula, Zihle Mciteka

Names from the top: Nangamso Bomvana, Vuyolwethu Ntunguntwana, Chizoba Mkhwanazi, Simnikiwe Sawula, Zihle Mciteka

Cape Town (Women’s Feature Service) – As the curtains go up and the bright lights dramatically illuminate the room, all the audience can see is a bare stage with three chairs. A stark setting indeed and, yet, it’s the perfect backdrop for a performance that combines music, dance, laughter and heart-rending stories – of feminine courage and spirited action in the face of persistent physical and emotional violence. As the cast of young university women, which includes Vuyolwethu Tunguntwana, 19, Chizoba Mkhwanazi, 18, Ayabonga Pasiya, 22, and others, brings the stage to life with their impassioned narrations, the viewers hang on to their every word and feeling.

Even though it’s been nine years since the feminist play, ‘Reclaiming the P… Word’, was first staged at the University of Western Cape in South Africa, its message as well as effect has remained constant. This self-scripted and performed drama, which fights against the cultures that enable sexual violence on campus as well as in South African society, never fails to enlighten and empower.

Mary Hames, Director of the University’s Gender Equity Unit (GEU) that has produced the play, talks about how the idea to write and direct ‘Reclaiming the P… Word’ took shape. “The GEU has conceptualised this play that specifically raises awareness about the objectification and sexualisation of black women‘s bodies. It was the outcome of several workshops and discussions held campus-wide in which the staff, students as well as women from the larger community were encouraged to speak about or write down their own experiences related to bodily integrity and dignity.”

This process took approximately four months and led to the penning of a “flexible script that had multiple elements: feminist education and teaching, the evocation of empathy with the experiences of the cast and characters, the raising of awareness, and shock about the statistics on violence”. According to Hames, “The play aimed to provide humour and laughter, to present audiences with the reality of life for black South African women in a truthful manner and to capture and hold the attention of the audience for approximately one hour.”

Three weeks before the play was due to open the scripts started to roll in; staffand students wrote their own pieces. Eventually eight monologues, one dialogue, one poem and one song were selected. “We had to come up with a title that was provocative and truthful, and I proposed ‘Reclaiming the P…Word. The ‘P’ stands for poes – the Afrikaans term for vagina. The term has a very specific context and connotation in South Africa, especially among Afrikaans-speaking communities, and is often used in a derogatory sense. The premise of the play (and the use of the term) was to examine such social ideas of embodiment and to provoke debate and raise consciousness about the female body,” she adds.

The first performance of ‘Reclaiming the P…Word’ was an overwhelming success and it was decided to stage another two performances as part of the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women Campaign that year. Indeed, the first two verses of the song, written by a cast member, truly epitomises the message of the play:

‘I’m a woman

My spirit is free

And the person that I love

The most in the world is me

I own by body

I love what I see

I love every body…

But most of all

I love me’ (Johanna Booysen, 2006)

Over the years, the fundamentals of ‘Reclaiming the P…Word’ haven’t changed. Ayabonga Pasiya, 22, who is in her final year of B.Sc Medical Bioscience, is the director at present. She shares, “Till today, each portion of the play is intimately connected with the other and sensitively traces the outcome of physical and emotional violence on women’s bodies. After the show, several women in the audience usually come forward and express how they could relate to each piece. The performance allows them to connect and, at the same time, challenges them to reflect.”

Significantly, the play includes stories of incest and domestic violence, and even comments on the violence women are subjected to in the public sphere. “In the process, it conveys the importance of reclaiming the self. Personal and local experiences are related in a language understood by both the educated and semi-educated in an unpretentious manner. In fact, non-South African women, too, can immediately relate to it as it has a universal message,” Pasiya elaborates.

Cheerful and enthusiastic Chizoba Mkhwanazi, who joined the group in February 2015, believes that their play is the perfect platform to tell personal stories in an artistic manner. “It is one of the best examples of activism through performance,” she mentions, adding, “I love the way we use the stage. Physically it’s bare but it transforms into a space of empowerment and freedom, where women are encouraged to find their voice.”

Dressed in black the girls’ performance is striking as they effortlessly convey how even though women are all the same – or rather come from the same source – they are still unique in their own right. As “finding the voice” is central to the production, it’s remarkable the way in which they talk about how they are “rewriting histories” and “voicing their present”.

Fast-paced and engaging, the narrative, made up of several monologues punctuated with dancing, singing and drama, easily comes together as one, forcing everyone to sit up and pay attention to the violence and injustice around them. After all, only when people are confronted can they no longer turn away and pretend that they do not hear or see the prejudice or unfairness meted out to girls and women in general.

Of course, the revelations are not confined to the audience alone. The girls associated with production have their own learning curves. Vuyolwethu Tunguntwana, 19, a cast member for two years, feels that she now knows the “importance of telling our own stories – because if you don’t do it, no one else will”. For her, “performing the play is like taking back what belongs to women. The real meaning of the word poes. I feel very liberated because I believe in what I’m saying”.

Simnikiwe Sawula, 21, a second year student, finds being part of the play a “learning and healing experience”. She says, “Like most black people, I have also felt the pain of segregation, isolation and silence. With this play, I get to create my very own safe space, where I am honest and do not feel intimidated or belittled. It allows me to share my story as a black woman with other black women and not worry about being censored.” Recalling her aha! moment Sawula says, “It came during a scene that deals with sexual and reproductive rights, specifically the issue of menstruation and sanitary napkins, how this is dealt differently by each culture and how the advertising of these products is handled. Before that time, I had never really engaged so closely with issues related to sexual and reproductive rights.”

Mkhwanazi is quick to point out that “there’s a whole range of subjects that we touch on”. “We speak on a number of things – about owning our blackness or being black, feminism and how it’s become taboo to be one and how we’re scrutinised and attacked for being one. We talk about rape in family and what it does to young women who have no idea how to tell their families that they have been violated by one of their own,” she explains. And, after every show the cast interacts with the audience and their reactions act as motivation and a valuable source of information.

Hames, who has seen successive batches of girls and women being empowered through their involvement with the play, concludes, “It’s been a journey of healing, growth, understanding themselves for the first time and hope.”

(This article is part of U.N. Women’s Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It! campaign in the lead-up to Beijing+20.)

(© Women’s Feature Service)
Author: Mahabal, Kamayani Bali
Date published: November 6, 2015
Language: English
PMID: 59130
Journal code: WNFS

Read more: http://www.readperiodicals.com/201511/3865771381.html#ixzz3sqikqbhH

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South Africa appoints first lesbian to cabinet #goodnews

Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown’s appointment as public enterprises minister seen as symbolic in light of anti-gay laws in other parts of continent

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, has appointed the country’s first openly gay cabinet minister, thought also to be a first in Africa and a symbolic step on a continent enduring a homophobic backlash.

Lynne Brown becomes the public enterprises minister in a cabinet that also includes South Africa‘s first black minister of finance.

Brown, 52, who is coloured (of mixed race ancestry), was born in Cape Town and was premier of Western Cape until the African National Congress (ANC) lost control of the province to the opposition Democratic Alliance in 2009.

According to a 2008 profile of her by the South African Press Association, she began her career as a teacher and gained a certificate in gender planning methodology at University College London. “I can’t bear working in an environment where things don’t get done,” she was quoted as saying. “I’m not a flamboyant type of person, I get things done.”

Her personal interests were said to be playing golf, reading and “an admiration of arts and culture”.

She is not seen as a gay rights activist but her ascent to a cabinet post was described on Monday as a significant moment. Eusebius McKaiser, a broadcaster and political author, who is gay, said: “It is, sadly, probably newsworthy, I guess, insofar as the social impact of openly gay people in high-profile public leadership positions cannot be discounted in a country like South Africa where levels of homophobia, including violence against black lesbian women, remain rife.

“The symbolism matters also from an African perspective too given other countries around us are enacting and enforcing laws criminalising same-sex sex and lifestyles.”

Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said: “I think it’s worth drawing attention to. She’s not a gay rights campaigner – it’s not recognition in that sense – but the fact that under the most socially conservative president since 1994 there is the first openly gay minister in such a position is significant.”

South Africa was the first African country to legalise gay marriage but Zuma, a traditional Zulu polygamist, has previously been criticised for culturally fundamentalist remarks and failing to condemn anti-gay crackdowns in Nigeria and Uganda.

Asked by the Guardian in 2012 about his views on same-sex marriage, the president replied: “That does not necessarily require my view, it requires the views of South Africans. We have a constitution that is very clear that we all respect, which I respect. It has a view on that one, that gay marriage is a constitutionally accepted thing in South Africa. So no matter what my views would be.”

Meanwhile Zuma, 72, who was inaugurated on Saturday for a second term, named Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, the first black person to hold the position. Nene, 55, had served as deputy to the widely respected Pravin Gordhan, who is of Indian ancestry.

Nene, whose first name means “luck” in Zulu, is a former parliamentarian and chair of the finance portfolio committee. He spent 15 years at the insurance firm MetLife, where he was a regional administrative manager and where, during racial apartheid, he organised the country’s first strike in the financial sector.

Razia Khan, Africa’s regional head of research for Standard Chartered Bank, told AFP: “Nene is an old hand at the treasury. He will be seen to represent policy continuity.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, a former miners’ union leader turned billionaire businessman, becomes deputy president. But Friedman suggested he was far from certain to succeed Zuma. “That’s far more complicated. He doesn’t like taking political risks. The succession may revolve around some regional issues. KwaZulu-Natal is the biggest province and they’re pushing to choose the next president. I don’t think the other provinces will be keen on that.”

After a punishing five-month strike in the platinum mines, the mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu, was removed. The police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, who was in office during the killing of 34 striking miners at Marikana in 2012, was also shifted from his post.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/26/south-africa-appoints-gay-minister-lynne-brown

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South Africa’s emerging new left: the birth of a new socialist party

The aim is to create a movement similar to the United Democratic Front that fought the apartheid government.

BY MARTIN PLAUT PUBLISHED 27 JANUARY 2014 12:09

Striking petrol station attendants in Johannesburg.
Striking petrol station attendants, many of whom are members of the Numsa union, protest in Johannesburg in September 2013. Photo: Getty

Cautiously, but with plenty of revolutionary rhetoric, a new socialist party is being born in South Africa.

The country’s largest trade union, Numsa, which represents some 320,000 metalworkers, is holding a week-long political school to consider what to do next.

Top of the agenda is how to implement decisions taken in December to form a United Front as an alternative to the union’s alliance with the ANC. Some 150 shop stewards will meet at a comfortable hotel adjacent to Johannesburg’s main airport. The conference theme is “Capitalism and its Gravediggers: Building a United Front to Resist Neoliberalism.”

Business travellers might gripe that the hotel’s rooms are a little tired, carpets look worn and the corridors are in need of attention, but these impediments are unlikely to distract the delegates. They will meet representatives of 147 social movements for what is being described as “a conversation” and a “political Expo”.  From these discussions a United Front is expected to be founded. This aims to bring together the union, civic organisations and small socialist parties.

The union aims to create a movement similar to the United Democratic Front that fought the apartheid government. This is what the general secretary of Numsa, Irving Jim, called for when he opened the political school on Sunday. “As Numsa, we must lead in the establishment of a new United Front that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities, in a way similar to the UDF of the 1980s.”

Numsa had already decided to cut its aid to the ANC; a severe blow to the party in the run up to this year’s general election. It has already cost the party the R8m (£500,000) political levy it previously received from the union. Worse still, the union has decided not to campaign door-to-door for the ANC.

The reason for this falling-out is that the union feels it is taken for granted by the government, and has little influence over policy. “The working class is used by the ANC as voting fodder,” complained Irvin Jim. Calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign, he declared that: “The working class no longer sees the ANC as an ally.”

There is also the question of the treatment of leader of the Cosatu trade union movement, Zwelinzima Vavi, who is being purged from his post. Allegations of financial misconduct were made against him and Vavi had an affair with a junior member of staff, but few believe these were the real reasons for taking disciplinary measures against him. It was, rather, Vavi’s outspoken attacks on corruption in the ANC that have outraged the party hierarchy.

Vavi himself puts these developments in a political context, suggesting that the ANC has sold out to capitalist interest. “The real bases of the crises in Cosatu are its complex and contradictory class relationships which it finds itself having to deal with, on a daily basis, in the multiclass and unstructured ANC led Alliance, to which it belongs,” he says.

The party has hit back. ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe denouncedNumsa as a “sponsored” agent of (unnamed) foreign countries, out to weaken the ANC. This kind of rhetoric has been used repeatedly in the past as a means of smearing anyone inside the ANC led alliance at odds with the leadership.

While these developments could have a major impact on future political developments, it is the existing parties that will determine the 2014 election.

There is certainly increasing disillusionment with the ANC in general and President Zuma in particular. An opinion poll taken in November last year gave the party 53 per cent support; a fall of ten per cent since 2008. But the same poll made grim reading for the opposition as well. The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, was up 5 per cent over the same period, but still registering just 18 per cent support. Around one in five South Africans say they will not vote, or refused to say how their vote will be cast.

The party that has been making most of the headlines in recent weeks has been the Economic Freedom Fighters. They are led by Julius Malema, the former leader of the ANC Youth League who was expelled from the party in April 2012 for challenging Jacob Zuma. Malema’s supporters have proved adept at mounting well-publicised events designed to embarrass the president.

In January Malema handed a house to a destitute woman, S’thandiwe Hlongwane, within sight of Zuma’s lavish country residence at Nkandla. The Nkandla villa has been refurbished at public expense. A swimming pool was described as a “fire pool” to an incredulous public. But Malema’s stunt may have blown up in his face, for it is now reported that the “destitute” Mrs Hlongwane is married to a rather well-heeled public servant, who already owned two properties.

Other political parties are struggling to make much headway. Agang, which was launched by the charismatic Mamphela Ramphele in February last year, now admits it is seriously short of money. It will have to reign in its campaigning, concentrating on areas in which it can make most impact.

While support for the ANC gradually ebbs away, it continues to hold two crucial cards.

The first is its control over government contracts, which have been milked by the party for funds. The most widely reported example is the 25 per cent stake the ANC effectively owns in Hitachi Power Africa, via its front company, Chancellor House.

The state-owned power generator, Eskom, awarded Hitachi a lucrative contract to make the boilers for two giant power stations. These contracts, and other business-generated funds, together with the money from parliament, provide the cash for elections.

The second card is the media. The state-controlled broadcaster, the SABC, is as much under the ruling party’s thumb as it was under the National Party during the apartheid era. The SABC’s radio stations are particularly important, since their broadcasts are almost the only way of reaching people in the remoter rural areas.

In recent years the ANC’s influence over the media has tightened, with the emergence of the New Age media group controlled by the Gupta family – close friends of the president. Chinese investors have also teamed up with allies of the ANC to purchase Independent News and Media, which owns some of the most important daily newspapers in cities across the country. These include many of the most famous titles: the Star and Pretoria News in Gauteng; the Cape Times and Cape Argus in Cape Town and the Mercury, Post, and Independent on Saturday in Durban.

The deal was overseen by Iqbal Surve, a businessman with close ANC connections who says he wants the media to report more “positive aspects” of the country. The editor of the Cape Times, Alide Dasnois, has already lost her job for failing to heed the changing winds. Protests by outraged readers outside the Cape Times offices appear to have had only a limited impact.

Predictions about the outcome of the 2014 election are difficult, but the ANC is unlikely to win the 65.9 per cent share of the vote it gained in April 2009. If President Zuma fails to cross the 60 per cent threshold there will be deep frustration inside the party. Moves to oust him, just as he ousted Thabo Mbeki in 2008, would be sure to follow.

Read more here – http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/01/south-africas-emerging-new-left-birth-new-socialist-party

 

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New footage of Marikana massacre in South Africa shows unprovoked attack #mustshare

 

Socialist film maker Rehad Desai has uncovered previously unseen news footage of the beginning of the Marikana massacre in South Africa in August 2012.

It clearly shows one of the strikiing miners‘ leaders at the head of a large group moving away from ‘the mountain’ where they had been meeting. They are heading towards the informal settlement where they live.

The miners are moving slowly and trying to leave, not attack. The police move vehicles up and then open fire, panicking the miners who start to run. This fits entirely with the miners’ evidence as reported in Socialist Worker at the time and contradicts the police statement that the miners attacked them and they had to fire in self defence.

Socialist Worker’s report, days after the massacre said, “Witnesses say police near the ‘small koppie’ (hillock) opened fire on them, probably with rubber bullets.” The new footage backs this up.

 

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Nelson Mandela would have made a fine peace journalist #Sundayreading

By Steven Youngblood
Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism, Park University

At a fundamental level, Mandela and peace journalists share an understanding of the importance of language. One key tenant of peace journalism is that the words we as journalists use matter—that they can either soothe or inflame passions. Mandela might have gone one step further, noting not only journalists’ responsibility to choose their words carefully, but also their duty to use language in a way that bridges divides and brings people together.  Mandela said, “Without language, we cannot talk to people and understand them. One cannot share their hopes and aspirations, learn their history, appreciate their poetry and savor their songs. I again realize that we are not different people with separate language; we are one people with different tongues.” (http://africa.waccglobal.org/what%20is%20peace%20journalism_.pdf )

Another value peace journalists share with Mandela is a commitment to ongoing dialogue, like the kind begun under Mandela’s post-apartheid Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is continuing that work today, offering “a non-partisan platform for public discourse on important social issues…that contribute to policy decision-making.” (nelsonmandela.org)  Peace journalists, of course, can provide this platform, but not just to those in power. We seek to give a voice to all parties, with a special emphasis on giving voice to the voiceless.

I hope Mr. Mandela would be proud of the work that one group of peace reporters just concluded in Lebanon.  These reporters told the stories of Syrian refugees living in Beirut in a way that demystified the stereotypes about these individuals while fostering a dialogue within Lebanese society about how to accommodate and protect 440,000 refugees.

Many of Mandela’s principles not only align with peace journalism, but also lay out a blueprint for successful peace journalists.

This blueprint for peace journalists can be found, succinctly, in the UN’s written declaration of July 18th as Nelson Mandela International Day.  The UN declaration “recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the uplifting of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.” (masterpeace.org).

This statement is not only Mandela’s legacy, it is his charge to all of us, but especially to those of us who subscribe to the notion that we as journalists have a higher responsibility. This means that we must study and understand conflict resolution, and apply that knowledge to balanced reporting that gives proportionate voice to those who seek peace rather than exclusively to those who rattle the sabers of violence.  Mandela’s legacy charges peace journalists with facilitating meaningful dialogues on race, and empowering those in our society who are marginalized (women, children, and the poor).  This means that along with peace journalism, we should practice development journalism, using our platforms to focus attention on societal problems and solutions.

Most of all, this legacy charges journalists with putting the spotlight on the Nelson Mandelas in each society—those who seek  peace and reconciliation. Mandela’s statement during his 1964 trial is a testimony to the positive power of language, and to journalism’s responsibility to give voice to those who seek a peaceful path.  Mandela told the court, “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (transcend.org)

 

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Global thematic campaign on Gender and Reproductive Justice #Vaw

Gender 'tag cloud'

 

People’s Health Movement

 

8th March, 2013

 

 

 

At the People’s Health Assembly 3 held in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2012, People’s Health Movement committed to build a campaign on gender issues through initiating separate circle on the Global thematic campaign on Genders within the PHM right to health campaign. Through the online correspondence in these last few months, a general view of expanding the gender circle has emerged, especially regarding specific themes of gender, equity, and violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Reproductive Justice.

 

Why a Global thematic campaign on Gender

 

We, at PHM believe that Health Rights including Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights must be located within a perspective that recognizes social determinants of health, and universal health entitlements/access to healthcare. The framework should address the oppressive structures of neo-liberal globalization, capitalism, poverty, patriarchy, privatization of essential services, imperialism, militarization, fundamentalisms, heteronormativity, racism, casteism and ableism, which not only exacerbate poor physical, sexual, reproductive and emotional health for women and young girls but also disadvantage them in accessing health-care.

 

We are only too aware of how gender oppression is intricately linked to other systems of oppression and PHM’s agenda should be to make a conscious effort to create space and visibility for some such concerns that can often be observed to be marginalized even within progressive, rights movements. While they assume different forms in different contexts and social realities, issues of ability/disability, sexuality, health in the context of conflict, state sponsored coercive population policies, gender based violence, non-coercive access to contraception and abortion, and especially the rights of sex workers, transgender, HIV positive individuals in relation to all the above are sparsely raised on the public health platforms and health movements across the world.

 

There is a cyclical relation between violence and ill-health; both influence each other, yet gender based violence is rarely addressed as a human rights or public health issue. That violence takes varied forms and that gendered notions make certain peoples particular targets is a question of political violence that a movement like PHM needs to urgently address.

 

Historically, as we know that women’s ability to make choices and exercise autonomy in matters of sexuality and reproduction has been conditioned and constrained by economic, political, religious and cultural patterns, responding to a model of prescriptive ‘normality’ and disallowing any kind of behavior which deviates from this. The relegation of women’s health to maternity and family planning on the one hand and the concerted attack on women’s reproductive and sexual rights on the other are serious violations of women’s autonomy, personhood, dignity and human rights.

 

Throughout the world, society, law and cultural norms have repressed any behaviour that could challenge this prescriptive reproductive role of women. Reproduction itself becomes a site of coercion and social inequality, being regulated by morality, class, caste, race hierarchies and community. It is the same ideas of gender roles, relations and sexual division of labour that result in coercive structures for women, and further marginalize several persons who go against the existing heteronormativity.

 

As an object of policy, sexuality and sexual rights have generally been considered as an ‘unimportant’ and secondary issue. Women’s movements have also only gradually given space to these debates. That sexual rights for all are essential for better physical, mental and emotional health is a perspective that needs a much stronger acknowledgement and activism by both the state and social movements.

 

Within the health care systems, health professionals need to be sensitised in order to address all forms of violence and discrimination on the basis of gender within the private as well as public spheres. Health rights can be enjoyed by all and accessed at all times only if the rights of those who occupy low rungs in the gender hierarchy have secured rights in all spheres.

 

PHM is well-placed to address components of policy advocacy, capacity building, knowledge creation and health systems engagement within this umbrella framework.  The need is for us to foreground this perspectives in our strategies. We can hold capacity building and advocacy initiatives for SRHR, violence There is a need to conceptualize the campaigns/circles in a way that we understand the common systems of oppressions and gender hierarchies and are able to equally visiblize and address concerns of all those who are marginalized, exploited and discriminated against on the basis of their gender identities and sexual behaviour.

 

The thematic Circle will Insert all these concerns within the People’s health movement by- informing the PHM mandate and the campaign for Health For All and vis-à-vis gender. PHM will provide a platform for women across the world to articulate the above concerns as well as to share and learn from each other the creative struggles waged by people, especially by women, against injustice and inequality.

 

 

 

PHM global has already been engaged with many networks such as WGNRR, IWHM, ARROW, SAMA, WISH to name a few. We would like to welcome and invite networks/organisations, coalitions to join and collaborate with us on this initiative. Together we can strategise for a better world that is founded on social justice, non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all people.

 

contact:  <[email protected]>

 

 

 

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Mahatma Gandhi’s;Granddaughter opposes #Deathpenalty #Vaw #Rape

: Monday, February 25, 2013, Zee News
Melbourne: Amid a debate in India over capital punishment for rapists, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi on Monday said the death sentence is not the solution to end violence against women and the society needs to promote gender consciousness.”Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender, nor (the) Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system,” Ela Gandhi, a former South African MP said during her visit to Australia. “Well it’s 2013 but lots of mothers still buy pink for their girls and blue for the boys, that’s just one little thing in which they differentiate. I think if you just go from there, you see little issues in the way we bring up our children, that you know makes these roles separate, that children grow up thinking that we are different,” she said. “There is a difference between girls and boys but that difference is not, you know, in terms of roles and so on. That difference has been exaggerated and that is what we need to curb, ABC news quoted her as saying. And the social activist, who is working to end domestic violence thinks the society needs to “become more gender conscious”. “You know, there has to be real community outreach programs with parents, with young people in schools. Everywhere, gender consciousness needs to be a part of the syllabus of every child, that from infancy to tertiary education and in the community,” she said. She also expressed shock over alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian Oscar Pistorius. “Steenkamp’s death by the hands of her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence? possession of arms such as a gun lead to these kinds of irreversible consequences,” she said. She also participated in various events framed around the theme “Global Problems, Local Solutions”.

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South Africa outraged over brutal #gangrape #Vaw

Associated Press
 February 7, 2013

 

Johannesburg —

In a country where 1 in 4 women is raped and where months-old babies and 94-year-old grandmothers are sexually assaulted, citizens are demanding action after a teenager was gang-raped, had her stomach sliced open, and was left for dead on a construction site last week.

The 17-year-old lived long enough to identify one of her attackers, a 22-year-old. Police arrested him and said Thursday that they have arrested a second suspect, aged 21. They promised more arrests soon.

“Kill them!” was one of the demands voiced on talk radio stations Thursday.

Every few months, this nation with the highest rate of rapes of babies and young girls in the world yells its outrage at a particularly brutal attack.

Last year, South Africans were shocked when village boys gang-raped a mentally ill 17-year-old with a mental age of 4. She was attacked by six boys, the youngest of whom was 10, in a crime that only came to light because the boys made a cell phone video of the rape and posted it on the Internet. It went viral.

Professor Rachel Jewkes, a doctor heading the Women’s Research Unit of South Africa‘s Medical Research Council, said 37 percent of surveyed men in South Africa’s most populated province of Gauteng said they had raped a woman or child, according to a study. Seventy-five percent of them first raped a teenager, she said.

“It’s a social disaster,” she said. The number of “men who try to feel better about their past by trying to make out that what they did wasn’t serious or wasn’t rape is obviously huge and must be a huge obstacle to getting anything done – from police making arrests to decisions in the courtroom by magistrates and so forth.”

The outcry over Saturday’s rape in Bredasdorp, a Western Cape town known for its giant protea flowers, led President Jacob Zuma to pledge Thursday “that government would never rest until the perpetrators and all those who rape and abuse women and children are meted with the maximum justice that the law allows.”

The maximum sentence for rape in South Africa is life in prison. The death sentence has been abolished.

Zuma himself was accused of rape by the HIV-positive, lesbian daughter of a close friend in 2005. Zuma said the sex was consensual and he was acquitted, but is unlikely to live down his comment in court that he had a shower afterward to cut the risk of acquiring AIDS.

In a study conducted by Jewkes in 2009, 62 percent of surveyed boys over age 11 said they believed that forcing someone to have sex was not an act of violence. One-third said girls enjoy being raped.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/world/article/South-Africa-outraged-over-brutal-rape-4261987.php#ixzz2KN3VnPJV

 

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‘Racism’ of early colour photography explored in art exhibition

 Friday 25 January 2013 , Guardian

Artists spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film engineered with only white faces in mind

&quot;Shirley&quot;, which was the nickname given to the girl used in Kodak plotting sheets&nbsp;
Kodak Shirley’ cards used for calibrating skin tones in photographs were named after the first model featured. Photograph: Adam Broomberg And Oliver Chanarin/Goodman Gallery

 in Johannesburg

Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa’s apartheid regime to photograph and police black people.

The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid’s vintage ID-2 camera, which had a “boost” button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or “dompas”, that allowed the state to control their movements.

The result was raw snaps of some of the country’s most beautiful flora and fauna from regions such as the Garden Route and the Karoo, an attempt by the artists to subvert what they say was the camera’s original, sinister intent.

Broomberg and Chanarin say their work, on show at Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, examines “the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself”. They argue that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently “racist”.

The light range was so narrow, Broomberg said, that “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth”. It was only when Kodak’s two biggest clients – the confectionary and furniture industries – complained that dark chocolate and dark furniture were losing out that it came up with a solution.

The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid’s answer to South Africa’s very specific need. “Black skin absorbs 42% more light. The button boosts the flash exactly 42%,” Broomberg explained. “It makes me believe it was designed for this purpose.”

In 1970 Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for Polaroid in America, stumbled upon evidence that the company was effectively supporting apartheid. She and her partner Ken Williams formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement andcampaigned for a boycott. By 1977 Polaroid had withdrawn from South Africa, spurring an international divestment movement that was crucial to bringing down apartheid.

The title of the exhibition, To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, refers to the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe a new film stock created in the early 1980s to address the inability of earlier films to accurately render dark skin.

The show also features norm reference cards that always used white women as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs. The series of “Kodak Shirleys” were named after the first model featured. Today such cards show multiple races.

Broomberg and Chanarin made two recent trips to Gabon to photograph a series of rare Bwiti initiation rituals using Kodak film stock, scavenged from eBay, that had expired in 1978. Working with outdated chemical processes, they salvaged just a single frame. Broomberg said: “Anything that comes out of that camera is a political document. If I take a shot of the carpet, that’s a political document.”

 

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Tiranga Bangle – ‘healing’ with a tinge of patriotism , ok what about traitors #WTFnews #Jindal

Hindu  BUREAU

NEW DELHI, JAN. 25:

 

Are you tired of everyday stress? Sick of acidity problems? Your woes may end soon, if steel tycoon Naveen Jindal is to be believed. On Friday, Shashi Tharoor launched ‘Tiranga Bangle’, an initiative by Naveen Jindal’s Flag Foundation of India.

The Foundation was set up in January 2002 after Jindal won a seven-year-long court battle that enabled Indians to display the national flag with honour and pride at their homes, offices etc.

The Tiranga Bangle is made of copper and designed with tri-vortex technology from South Africa. Tri-vortex is a sound frequency-based technology used to treat materials and products that can be used for health benefits. The bangle claims to provide ‘natural, environment-friendly and non-chemical-based healing’.

Anton Ungerer, the person behind the tri-vortex technology, said the bangle is treated in a tri-vortex chamber for 24 hours or more. “This technology uses subtle energy vibrations and will spark a revolution in India,” he added.

Tharoor said, “I wear the national flag everyday, thanks to the court case Naveen fought. This bangle initiative by him is good for health and also advertises his loyalty for the tricolour” and congratulated the foundation for coming up with such a “therapeutic idea”.

The bangle, it was claimed, worked wonders for people suffering from arthritis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome or other pain-related ailments.

Jindal said he was glad that such distinctive technology was being used in India and was confident that it would help people lead a healthier lifestyle.

[email protected]

 

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