Among the areas of dialogue that are vital in order to address the gender violence pandemic are: understanding the context and its challenges; supporting the survivors; and educational programmes which advocate positive behavioural alternatives.
A companion installation to the hugely impactful South African Voices at KwaMuhle Museum in Durban, opened on Friday at the Museum’s KwaZinti Gallery, entitled Breaking the Chains of Ignorance & Denial around Gender-Based Violence. The new installation has been created to educate the public on gender-based violence, and highlight resources available to survivors, and is housed within the SouthAfrican Voices HIV Museum.
The exhibition opened on the eve of the annual 16 day campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) in our communities as South Africa continues to wrestle with gender inequality and rape culture.
The exhibition was launched by AIDS Healthcare foundation (AHF) in association with the eThekwini Municipality, KwaMuhle Museum and South African Voices.
“People know that gender-based violence is a national crisis. Confronted by the pervasiveness of the problem can be overwhelming; it is hard to know where to start to make change. I don’t think people know their rights or are familiar with the protections offered by the Domestic Violence Act or the Sexual Offences Amendment Act,” explains Larissa Klazinga: Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager: Southern Africa, AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“Hopefully the exhibition will give people practical information and remind them that the personal is political, inspiring everyone that visits to challenge rape culture in their everyday lives,” said Klazinga.
“Our activities during the 16 Days of Activism allow us to share these initiatives with the general public and in collaboration with Info4Africa, EThekwini Municipality and KwaMuhle Museum, create an engaging educational exhibition open to the public, which documents 60 years of women’s rights activism, hopefully inspiring youth to resist rape culture,” said Hilary Thulare, Country Programme Director for AHF.
The Breaking the Chains of Gender-Based Violence exhibition highlights the role women played in the liberation struggle and aims to empower youth to take on the fight against GBV, inspired by those that came before them. Over the last 60 years gender activists have made huge strides towards securing women’s rights. We need to educate people about those rights and how to access them.
“2017 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Silent Protest and as AHF has organised these protests over the past four years, we have been afforded an opportunity to engage with thousands of young people. We realised that unless people know their history and their rights rapists will continue to violate with impunity. The exhibition brings together the threads of women’s struggle against Apartheid with current advocacy against GBV to show how these struggles are connected: they form part of one long march to justice and equality for women,” added Thulare.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation recognises that there is a demonstrable link between gender inequality and the HIV infections. AHF has two ongoing interventions to address GBV: the Silent Protest, which focuses of creating safe spaces for rape survivors; and Girls Act, a youth programme that educates school learners about sexual and reproductive health and rights and distributes sanitary pads.
The exhibition consists of historical images and timelines, videos and photos, current stats, interactive elements like a selfie board for social media and creative spaces that allow visitors to have their say and contribute to the conversation about ending GBV.
The new installation complements the existing South African Voices: Towards a Museum of HIV Memory and Learning – a collection of artifacts, artistic, historic and photographic items that pay tribute to people affected by HIV. The collected items pay tribute to those who suffered and succumbed, and those who live with HIV every day in South Africa
“Created as a legacy project of AIDS2016, South African Voices documents a critical and defining chapter in our collective history in South Africa. It offers all people space to celebrate the achievements and reflect on the journey we have taken from the dark days of denialism and calls to “Break the Silence” at AIDS2000, to having the largest HIV treatment programme in the world,” says project director, info4africa’s Debbie Heustice.
Both exhibits are situated at KwaMuhle Museum. “As the KwaMuhle Museum, we are extremely proud to be associated with Breaking the Chains of Ignorance & Denial around Gender-Based Violence along with South African Voices, in highlighting the current plight of violence against women and children. The museum’s commitment to this cause is evidenced by the fact that this installation will be in place into 2018, well after ‘16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children’ is over” says Sinothi Thabethe from KwaMuhle Museum.
The exhibition is open to the public.