As South Africa grapples with the epidemic of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), The Justice Desk – a human rights organisation in Cape Town, launched its Men, Your Actions Define You campaign aimed to raise awareness around this problem.
Accurate statistics on how many GBV cases we have in the country is hard to obtain for various reasons, with not reporting the crime in fear of further victimisation being the most popular. According to the Justice Desk, every three hours a woman is murdered in South Africa and over one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence. With so many campaigns around this subject, you may ask yourself what’s different with this one?
“We, as a team [at the Justice Desk], really wanted to change the narrative and make a bold statement. For too long, GBV has been labelled as a woman’s issue when it is, in fact, a man’s issue,” says Jessica Dewhurst, CEO at The Justice Desk.
Men, Your Actions Define You launched on National Women’s Day, 9 August and continues throughout the year highlighting that women don’t bring violence to themselves. In a statement released by the organisation it stated that they want to “challenge the societal knee-jerk reaction that ‘not all men’ are abusers by highlighting that, in reality, any man could statistically be a potential abuser to women and children”.
Covered in two parts: online video content and printed billboards, Jessica explains the process behind the making of the campaign. “Research and dialogues helped inform the messaging and helped us to really look at the nuances that uphold patriarchal values and toxic masculinity. We had a focus group session prior to the launch to find out how individuals from different genders, ages and races would interpret the videos.”
While evident that women support men full-on, worldwide the same level of support is not received by women from their male counterparts. Jessica shares that men need to listen more to women rather than wanting to take over the situation. More importantly, they need to call out abusers in their circles.
“As the Justice Desk, we believe it is both unreasonable and unacceptable to expect only the female population to find a solution to GBV, and therefore call on men to play a vital role in ending this,” she adds.
On its video content, Men, Your Actions Define You features a married couple, working professionals and public transport commuters. “These scenarios were informed by three key examples of GBV: domestic violence highlighted in the married couple; sexual harassment in the workplace – the image of what society deems as a powerful man; and sexual assault in public transport. In a survey we conducted with women from across various contexts and demographics, public transport for women became a consistent topic associated with the fear of sexual assault,” Jessica concludes.
Author: Yonga Balfour