One Billion Rising South Africa

I attended the Rising at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, one of many held around the country. It was an emotionally charged evening of poetry, song and dance.

The poetry mostly spoke of personal experiences, and was very moving. It’s so sad and horrifying, this scourge of rape and gender violence. I’m left deeply mortified at how helpless woman, mostly, must feel at this onslaught.

Just a few pictures which don’t tell the real story…

May the rising continue until patriarchal attitudes are deemed a crime against humanity.

In response to a critic of V-Day

OBR-logo-englishI read with dismay the article V-Day stands for… vapidity by Marelise van der Merwe in Daily Maverick, which dismisses the One Billion Rising campaign on 14 February 2013 as a mere “step, step twirl.”

On 14 February, “One Billion Rising” will take place – also known as the main project of the V-Day initiative. It’s a celebrity-endorsed attempt to get a billion activists worldwide to take part in a choreographed dance to end rape. The trouble is, it’s got bugger-all to do with rape at all. And it’s unlikely to achieve anything, either.

It’s a rather unfortunate, low snipe at both the event organizers and the potential participants. I happen to know some of the local event organizers and I can confirm with conviction that they’re not just looking for an opportunity to sway their hips for a few hours, in a bid to move “beyond armchair activism.” I happen to know that they’re actively involved in various initiatives to address violence against woman, gender equality and the patriarchal culture that dominates society.

It’s not just about protesting against rape as Marelise alleges. It is so much more. And it’s a much more civilized way to express outrage, than forming mobs and burning and looting, as is the norm with many protests around the world.

It’s no mean feat getting one billion people around the world to rise up and protest against oppression and violence in a coordinated effort. And to accuse these people of being vacuous and misguided is pretty shallow. Surely Marelise doesn’t think these people are stupidly expecting their protest to magically end the scourge of rape?

This campaign is meant to raise awareness which will hopefully go a long way to encourage greater participation in some of the good material suggestions Marelise herself mentions in her article. Because… silence is an act of complicity.