The power of speaking out – Cyber dialogue summary for 28 November 2011

Date: November 30, 2011
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Date: 28 November 2011
Theme: The power of speaking out À“ “IÀ Stories

Dialogue Statistics









Quotes for the day:
“I lost my sight but not my soulÀ GBV Survivor at South African National Launch of Sixteen Days of Activism

“Where do you draw the line between being a victim and being a survivor?À Colleen Lowe Morna

“Speaking out helps but sometimes it gets to a point where you just don’t want or even feel like speaking out. The saddest thing about abuse is that young women are now learning the ‘art’ of not speaking out. They have learnt not to speak out from mothers, sisters, friends, aunts etc. So that cycle of secrecy continues. Young girls are shielding their young boyfriends À“ can you imagine the cycle of abuse? That’s why I think starting with young girls and boys should be the main focus. Its hard changing the mindset of an already grown person.À Nomthi Mankazana

“The response from men has been illuminating À“ painful, uncomfortable, we need to do more.À Trevor Davies

“I was beaten up by one of my clients. No, I did not get help from anyone. The police do not even care about us the sex workers.À Lady Gaga

1. Is speaking out about experiences of gender violence effective?

  • Speaking out has a positive benefit. It can be effective and help survivors to be liberated from the bondage and secrecy that often comes with violation.
  • Speaking out can be empowering; it can help to draw the line between being a survivor and a victim.
  • Speaking out can be a soothing and comforting experience.
  • There can be a fatigue that comes with speaking out.
  • Speaking out is a first step towards dealing with the trauma of being a victim/ survivor of GBV but there are many other steps to follow. This is what we need to explore.
  • The question is speaking out then what? These are questions being asked by people.
  • Men also need to be encouraged to speak out about GBV, especially perpetrators. Through theatre programmes men’s responses to issues of GBV have demonstrated that more work needs to be done.

2. What effect does it have when people speak out?

  • It can lead to victimization by the community.
  • When survivors report they are exposed to more victimization by the police.
  • Ensure the provision of counselling and other support services when people speak out.
  • Speaking out for perpetrators has assisted in their rehabilitation. Support groups for men with other men who are against violence has a positive effect.
  • Necessary to calculate the costs of violation to survivors À“ beyond costs of front line services. Calculate the cost to the individual such as lost opportunities, physical disability etc.
  • Often because of inadequately trained service providers, survivors experience secondary victimisation.
  • It helps survivors learn and know their rights and how to get help.

3. How do communities respond when survivors speak out?  

  • There is a need to speak out about emotional violence. It is the most unreported type of GBV.
  • Communities often stigmatise those who speak out. Attitudes in communities need to be changed. There is a need to target homes.
  • In the case of perpetrators who speak out or are dealt with by the justice system, they are shunned from society and their violators cannot forgive despite their having served a punishment.

4. Are there spaces where they can freely do this in the community?

  • Theatre in the Park and Rooftop Promotions in Zimbabwe doing work around the arts and GBV. Working with men where encouraged to speak out.
  • Project Ndabezitha in South Africa run along same lines as South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) where gender violence is addressed at community level.
  • Programmes that target men also exist e.g Padare, Varume Svinurai, Fatherhood Peace Project and African Fathers Initiative À“ all in Zimbabwe.
  • Street meetings in parts of Soweto where young people can express themselves freely.

5. What role can government, religious and community leaders play in empowering survivors to feel that they can speak out?  

  • Implementing violence prevention model at local level.
  • Initiatives that enable survivors to speak out before the community and seek redress or reparation from perpetrator. This must be linked to structures that ensure the justice system responds to GBV.
  • Programmes on awareness raising must target youth and community or political leaders to change attitudes at those levels.
  • Must capture the hearts and minds of future generations and assist the opinion leaders to shift beliefs and norms.
  • Arts, culture and media are important in creating and presenting role models for behaviour.
  • Local government can establish community forums where cross-generational and cross-gender dialogue can take place on issues of GBV.
  • Community mobilisation and local action plans to end GBV can be effective.
  • Mobilise religious and faith community structures to address GBV beyond encouraging families to stay together and women to remain in marriages.
  • Religious leaders preach and teach on GBV and related gender issues at least once a month in their services (etc).
  • Research on the role of religious institutions/ faith communities and GBV.
  • Increase engagement with political fora and individuals and encourage them to be active on issues of GBV.

6. What can we do to encourage survivors to speak out?

  • Use different methods that will encourage the communities to support and accept the stories and realties of survivors when they speak out À“ teach the community to be supportive.
  • Use the arts, social media, social networking and video games to include the youth in the conversation.
  • Speaking out has to be linked to economic empowerment, access to opportunities such as education, employment and etc.
  • Develop community radio programmes that highlight negative effect of GBV and give information on where people can get help (e.g Radio internet station).
  • Regular street meetings in localities to raise awareness and encourage community members who are survivors to share their experiences.
  • Ensure knowledge transfer through building the capacity of survivors who have spoken out to be stronger writers and documenters so that they can reach out to others.

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