Rising together against women abuse

Amidst the outcry over the current gender violence crisis in South Africa, it is heartening to know that there are young men prepared to stand up for what is right and just. Following on a teacher’s suggestion, Roald Roodt, the head boy of St Stithians Boys’ College in Randburg, Johannesburg, proposed to the termly meeting of local Gauteng head boys that their schools take a united stand against gender violence.

As a result, several boys’ schools agreed to hold a concurrent minute of silence on 15 February 2013 at noon. Roodt reports that the boys took the moment very seriously, and ensuing conversations with teachers heightened boys’ awareness of the effects of the crisis. Says Roodt: “There wasn’t a murmur from any boy during that minute.”

Schools involved in the initiative included St Alban’s College, Parktown Boys’ High School, St Benedict’s College, Jeppe High School for Boys, St David’s Marist Inanda, King Edward VII School, St John’s College, Pretoria Boys High School, St Stithians Boys’ College and Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool. St Stithians Girls’ College showed their appreciation on 1 March 2013. Reports Grade 12 student Megan Leighton: “Statistically, 130 out of our 520 girls will be raped or experience abuse sometime in her life. At the girls’ college, we decided to react to gender violence in a visual way by spelling out the word ‘STOP’ in a student photograph. In a matter of minutes, girls posted the picture onto social media, showing everyone that we will not accept women abuse anymore.”

St Stithians’ Girls’ College action formed part of the school’s ongoing commitment to the One Billion Rising movement, started a year ago by author Eve Ensler. The movement’s name is based on shocking figures from the United Nations, which indicate that one in three women will be raped during their lifetime.

Says Leighton: “The One Billion Rising initiative was highly successful and saw girls fr om all grades actively participate in the campaign. We painted T-shirts to wear, made use of a chapel service to inform the school of the campaign and created a flash mob.1 Our girls and staff thoroughly enjoyed dancing in and watching the flash mob, and it empowered us as we stood together for a cause that we so strongly believe in. “It was our pleasure to ‘rise’.”

Reference:

1. A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, and then quickly disperse. In the case of social protest, these occurrences are usually called smart mobs. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_mob.)

Category: Winter 2013

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