“In the global push to stop gender-based violence, men in the entertainment industry need to join forces with women to end violence by men against women and children”.
These were the words from prolific and globally celebrated actor Dr John Kani, calling on them to use their platforms to further drive the fight against the spike of violence that has sent shockwaves throughout the country this week.
Kani’s plea comes in the wake of numerous murders that have occurred in the last few days, including that of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana and female boxer Leighandre Jegels among others.
South Africa this week saw multiple demonstrations as scores of people took to the streets to protest against gender-based violence, calling for the protection of women to be prioritised and for action to be taken against perpetrators. There are also growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency on gender-based violence.
In his appeal, Kani, said it was time for male artists and celebrities in different sectors to mobilise their influence to break the walls of silence around abuse and femicide.
Kani said it confronting this ugly side of humanity head-on was necessary.
“We (as artists) are visible influencers and it is about time for those of us who can use the ubiquity of our voices and the power of our celebrity status to say, ‘Enough is enough! The violence must stop now!’,” he said.
The Market Theatre Foundation chief executive, Ismail Mahomed, said the institution had a legacy of getting artists involved in the causes for human rights.
“By taking the lead from one of South Africa’s most iconic artists, we want men to reclaim the responsibility that we have to end gender-based violence,” he noted.
Addressing mourners at Uyinene Mrwetyana’s memorial at UCT, chancellor Graça Machel called on South Africans to take a pledge to act on gender-based violence.
In her address, Machel spoke to the anger and fears that Uyinene’s death sparked saying, “This child has left us, and I can say with no fear that she took a little bit of all of us.”
“Our reality is, we are a society where women and children are not safe anywhere. Something absolutely and deeply wrong is happening in our society and it has to begin here where we ask the hard questions and more importantly contribute to finding answers,” she said.
Machel, who has been outspoken about her own children’s abuse, said it was vital for South Africans to rebuild the social fabric in society.
“This is a call for all South Africans. This is not the South Africa we fought for, and we have the power and capacity to change things. Yes there are policies, but policies don’t bring change, action brings change. And this is what we have to do, by all of us taking responsibility,” she added. –Sunday Independent