One Billion Rising gets off the ground with not much local buy-in

2013-02-17 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

South Africans are weird – they won’t say “vagina” but four women a minute in the country have theirs violated.

It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic that so many people whisper “private parts”.

Do you know what private means? “Belonging to some particular person”.

That is not true of the vaginas of most women, not only in South Africa but in the world.

This is what One Billion Rising is about.

It is a movement started by Eve Ensler, the gender activist whose most famous piece of writing is the joyful, tearful Vagina Monologues.

There was a star-studded charity performance of the show last Sunday, featuring the towering talents of the likes of Lebo Mashile, Fiona Ramsay, Vanessa Cooke, Napo Masheane, Karabo Tshikube and Louise Saint-Claire.

It was a call to action and many answered as the play was performed in cities around the world.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, while headlines around the world screamed the news that Olympian Oscar Pistorius had shot and killed his girlfriend, women – and some men – of the world began to rise against gender-based violence.

Twitter was ablaze.

Usually my middle class ass is too busy or exhausted to protest, but I know too many women who have been violated and, as the mother of a female child, I have to make the world a less deadly place for her.

So, my mothers’ dinner club and I went to the Johannesburg leg of the protest at the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill.

It was a fitting place for women to call for the shackles of abuse to be removed.

There were gender groups there, energetic drummers, a trio of fabulously dressed women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the artist Pitika Ntuli setting up his latest exhibition of sculptures, depicting “moods of violence”.

What there were not enough of were ordinary South Africans. There were some families, some fathers with their daughters, but not enough.

A display of bloodied panties and baby grows held centre stage – a graphic representation of the violence of rape – and placards with messages like: “I rise because my daughter deserves to be safe wherever she goes.”

I, though, am jealous of India’s response to the brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey.

Our response to Anene Booysen’s equally bloody death hasn’t had the same rage attached to it.

Why aren’t South Africans more angry? That’s the question I came away from Constitutional Hill with.

It felt like a gathering of the usual suspects, not an upswelling of widespread rage against the bloodied and mutilated vaginas of our sisters, mothers, daughters and partners.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.