Roadmap to Equality, Issue 6, December 2009

Date: August 19, 2011
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Issue  6 | 2 December
Table of Contents

Editor’s note

South Africa: Back prevention, NGOs say as Sixteen Day campaign kicks off

Lesotho: 16 Days of activism here again

South Africa: Take back the night march

Zambia:  16  Days March

Botswana: BNF speaks on 16 days of activism against violence on women and children

DRC:  16  Days highlights

The forgotten victims of conflict in the Congo

Mauritius: 16 Days highlights

Global: Punitive Laws Threaten HIV Progress

Global: HIV infections slowing but prevention gap persists

Other news

Personal accounts

Back in my house
Last year I told my story about how a man in my community had harassed me, until one day he finally beat me so badly I had to go to the hospital, just because I am disabled. This day was a terrible day for me, it even left me with scars. Even worse, for four years after that day, I did not go back to that place. I even left my house there, and went to live with my mother. I did not want to see him or face him.

At the Gender Links workshop, I met lots of women who had also been abused. Meeting with these made a big change in my life. Meeting with different people who speak different languages really motivated me.

I asked myself, why am I doing this person who hurt me a favour by leaving my own house. I said to myself, let me prove to myself that I’m a human being, my life is mine. No matter what he can do or say , to hell with him – this house belongs to me.

I went back to my house that I had left for so long. Since September last year until now I do as I please, so he can see that I do not care about him and I am not scared of him. Click here to read more.

Rape will not be my daughter’s legacy!
I   was fourteen when I was first raped. The perpetrator was in his early thirties. My friend and I were walking to the shop to buy bread when a man came out of the long grass. He showed us a gun and told us to do what ever he said or else…so we did. My friend and I went with him. He then started to ask us questions about sex.

We were so uncomfortable because we had never spoken nor thought about sex at our age. He took us to the nearest bush. He told me that he would start with me because I was the clever one. While he was raping me he put his fingers inside my friend’s vagina. When he was done with me he went to my friend and told me that he was coming back to me. I saw an opportunity to take the gun and run, and I did.

While he was chasing me asking for his gun back my friend ran the opposite direction. She got to my mom and told them what had happened. My family then went out looking for me. I ran to a nearby house and they accompanied me here to read more

Using my body for freedom  
As I sat in the taxi my mind flashed back to the day I left Zimbabwe for South Africa. Coming from the dire situation in my country, South Africa seemed to be the land of opportunity, and I was desperate for a chance at a normal life.

I thought I’d just the driver I’m a foreigner and he would leave me alone. But that didn’t work. “Uyathetha?” “Uyakhuluma”, “Wabulabula?” None of these languages was my mother tongue; what was I going to say? The coloured man next to me, in his heavy Capetonian accent, said, “Driver, can’t you tell she not from here, man?”

As the taxi stopped to pick up another passenger, the taxi driver turned to me and asked “Sisi, where are you from?” This was the worst question I could possibly be asked. I am a born and bred Zimbabwean, and am as proud as can be – or at least I used to be. But since I left home in 2006 I am not sure about exactly who I am or where I am from…

When I left, my heart felt like it would stop at any minute for the entire journey, there was no time to catch my breath. There were so many of us running away from what had become to seem like a foreign place, not the place we had grown up in, our home. We were running away from the torture, poverty, starvation and exploitation, in search of anything remotely better.
Read more here.

16 Days resources

What is the 16 days of activism
Media: part of the problem or solution
Taking stock
Speaking out
GBV and the internet Localising the 365 Days of Action
Sexual harassment
Making care work count
Culture tradition and GBV
International day for the disabled
Gender based violence and religion
Sex work
Human trafficking
Score a goal for gender equality






Editor’s note
Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the 16 Days Special Edition of the Roadmap to Equality. Yesterday marked the half way point of the campaign. The newsletter contains highlights from different countries. Through the cyber dialogues countries are sharing experiences and there is a great deal of energy in the campaign. What is also very evident is a commitment to keep the energy and drive going through the 365 Days.

In the first half of the campaign Gender Links, GEMSA and its partners across the region have participated in the following events and cyber dialogues:
19 November – Media debate
25 November – Taking stock
26 November – Speaking out
27 November – GBV and the Internet
28 November – Take back the night marches
30 November – Sexual harassment
1 December – Making care work count
2 December – Culture, tradition and the role of men

The schedule from now till the end of the campain is as follows:
3 December  – International Day for the Disabled
4 December –  GBV and religion
8 December – Human trafficking
10 December – International Human Rights Day: Gender and Soccer 2010.

Please join us in the forthcoming events. Click here to register for the cyber dialogues. For more information on the 16 Days campaign contact Naomi Blight on or on +27 11 622 2877.

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16 Days highlights

South Africa: Back prevention, NGOs say as Sixteen Day campaign kicks off

25 November 2009: NGOS that work to end gender violence have called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence and make prevention a central pillar of the largely dormant plan.

In a statement at the close of a three day symposium convened by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) under the banner “We can Prevent Violence” the 25 organisations called on the government to establish a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.

They also called on the Equality Court to send out a strong statement in support of women’s rights in its ruling, due out shortly, on the case taken up by Sonke Gender Justice against ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema for saying that a woman who has been raped does not ask for taxi money in the morning. The fact that a men’s group has taken up this case underscores the importance of men taking a stand on gender violence as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy.

The NGOs, who came from several different provinces, also called on FIFA to use the coming World Cup 2010 to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV and AIDS.

Lesotho: 16 Days of activism here again

Lesotho has, once again, joined the rest of the world in raising awareness on the 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children.

This year marks the 10th anniversary for the United Nation (UN)’s formal recognition of November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign organised around this day ends on December 10.

Every year, the centre for Women’s Global Leadership composes a campaign theme in consultation with women’s human rights advocates worldwide and then circulates an announcement for the campaign as widely as possible.Click here to read more.

South Africa: Take back the night march

Saturday 28 November saw the annual Take Back the Night march take place from Constitution Square through to Hillbrow and back.   The Take Back the Night march aims to reclaim areas that have become unsafe for women and men. It highlights people’s freedom to safety and security and that no space in a society should be unsafe for people.

This year saw 100 plus marchers from across Johannesburg reclaiming the streets of Hillbrow with liberation songs and dancing.   After the march, participants returned to Constitution Square where they were entertained by the Orange Farm choir, and the Ama-Afrika Aqotho Arts organisation.

Survivors of GBV presented a list of sixteen demands to Councillor Christine Walters from the City of Joburg. The demands covered  prevention, response and prevention  to reduce the extent of GBV.  Cllr Walters will be presenting these demands to the Speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Nkele Ntingane. Click here to watch video footage of the march.

Zambia:  16  Days March

Last Wednesday’s   march past and commemoration to kick off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence was significant in many respects.

Not only does it raise awareness but it also exposes the extent of violence especially against women so that the vice can be brought to an end.The negative impact of gender-based violence on national development and the general social well being of individuals and communitiesis enormous
The nature of the violence is one that brings shame on the victim such that many of them choose to die in silence, while others are left in trauma making it impossible for the victims to participate both in private and public life.

Furthermore, gender violence exposes the victims to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, which is already decimating populations in the productive age group all over the world, leaving countless orphans.This year’s theme, “Commit. Act. Demand. We can end violence against women” should spur nationals to act against gender-based violence and speak out whenever and where ever such sordid acts occur.

In this vein, we echo sentiments made by President Rupiah Banda that the Gender-Based Violence Bill must be finalised so that it can be enacted in Parliament in order to protect women and children and ensure gender equality.We need as a nation to match our words with deeds.The Government has already shown the way by amending the Penal Code so that stiffer punishmentis meted out to perpetrators of violence.

The Government has also enacted the National Gender Policy creating a suitable regulatory environment in which to tackle violence against women.We, therefore, have no excuse to delay the enactment of legislation against gender violence.Gender-based violence must never be tolerated no matter in what form it comes.

Campaign in pictures











Fact box  

1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

Regional schedule of events taking place during the 16 Days campaign:

  • Thursday, 3 December Disability and GBV
  • Friday, 4 December GBV and religion
  • Tuesday, 8 December Human trafficking
  • Thursday, 10 December International Human Rights Day: Gender and Soccer 2010

Botswana: BNF speaks on 16 days of activism against violence on women and children

This is coming at a time when women and children in this country and around the world are still vulnerable and suffer abuse and exploitation at the hands of governments, criminal elements and individuals. The role that women play in our society has to   be appreciated and it is our belief that children are the future.

We therefore call upon all citizens and different organisations to commit themselves to fighting all forms of abuse at home, the workplace and in our society.

We applaud legislations and systems in place aimed at protecting women and children.However, we call for further enhancement of these systems and zero tolerance on abusers. The BNF calls upon the government and law makers to analyse our legislative framework in order to ensure that all those who abuse women and children do not escape punishment. Click here to read more.

DRC :  16  Days highlights

The Sixteen Days of Activism in the DRC has so far seen three events take place; Media: Part of the problem or solution, GBV and the internet, sexual harassment and HIV and AIDS and care work.; each of which consisted of face to face discussion followed by a regional cyber dialogue.

The events were facilitated by Anna Mayimona, GEMSA Country Facilitator and UCOFEM Representative and were attended by both civil society and academics.   Throughout the rest of the 16 Days of Activism, the DRC will be having a further four events on culture, tradition and the role of men, disability and GBV, GBV and religion and sex work.   To participate in or for further details of any of these events please contact Anna Mayimona on

16 Days of Activism: The forgotten victims of conflict in the Congo

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Kahindo is lucky to be alive after being attacked and abused by armed men while fleeing her village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a country with one of the highest rates of rape in the world.

The young woman and her six children ran into a group of men not far from the village in eastern DRC’s volatile North Kivu province. “My reaction was a sigh of relief, thinking we were not going to run anymore,” Kahindo recalled. “I was wrong.”

She was led away from her children and then “six armed men stripped me naked. They began to rape me one after the other until I went into a coma,” an emotional Kahindo told UNHCR near the North Kivu capital, Goma. “They left me for dead.”

Today, almost four years later, this forcibly displaced woman sometimes feels that she might as well have died. In between sobs, she told of the terrible price she has paid. “Medical tests showed that I also contracted HIV,” she said, adding: “The impact of rape is not just. The stigma that I face is not just, either.” Click here to read more.

Mauritius: 16 Days highlights

So far the Mauritius team; a joint effort between GEMSA Mauritius and the Gender Links Mauritius Satellite Office, have been very busy throughout this year’s Sixteen Days of Activism. They have held events and cyber dialogues on media, care work, sexual harassment, taking stock and still have three more to come.

Each event has seen both members of civil society present and stakeholders of all levels; from faith based organisations to local government; from national ministries to research institutions. The cyber dialogue format has been so well received that on two occasions, the chats have overrun by an hour.  Participants were so keen that it has been suggested that there should be a monthly cyber dialogue within the country on a specific topic.

One of the key items for discussion in the Mauritian cyber dialogues is that the Mauritian government is yet to sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.  Despite this, the Mauritian government is on its way to implementing many of the targets contained within the Protocol.   However, as Loga Virahsawmy, Director of the Gender Links Francophone Office stated, a key area of focus must be improving women’s representation at a parliamentary level as currently women only constitute 17% of the Mauritian parliament.

It is hoped that as well as raising awareness and campaigning to reduce GBV throughout the Sixteen Days of Activism that this issue can also be raised as better representation of women at parliamentary level can be effective in making change for women in all areas of life.

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1 December – World AIDS Day
Global: Punitive Laws Threaten HIV Progress

Governments worldwide should take urgent action to reform punitive drug laws, disproportionate penalties, and harsh and discriminatory law enforcement practices as part of their efforts to address HIV among people who use drugs, Human Rights Watch and the International Harm Reduction Association said today, World AIDS Day. Current policies also cause needless suffering among people living with HIV/AIDS, the two groups said in a joint briefing note released today. Click here to read more.

Global : HIV infections slowing but prevention gap persists

The rate of new HIV infections worldwide has declined by 17 percent in the past eight years and prevention efforts can take some of the credit, according to the annual UNAIDS update on the epidemic released on 24 November.

The report noted that while the epidemic appeared to have stabilized in most parts of the world, the number of people living with HIV continued to grow, reaching 33.4 million by December 2008.

This was partly the result of better access to life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) treatment – four million people, or 42 percent of those needing the medication were receiving it by the end of 2008 – but an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections were added.

“There are clear signs that HIV prevention methods are beginning to make a difference, but we’re still not moving fast enough to keep pace with this virus,” Paul De Lay, UNAIDS deputy executive director told journalists during a telephonic press briefing from Geneva. Click here to read more.

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Other news

Namibia: ‘Parties Totally Don’t Care About Women’s Rights’

Gender activists foresee a drop in female parliamentarians after Namibia’s general and presidential elections on November 27 and 28. It’s a trend that jeopardises the region’s goal of 50 percent female representation in politics by 2015.

“Political parties do not put their money where their mouth is,” says Sarry Xoagus-Eises, country organiser for Gender Links, a non-governmental organisation that promotes gender equality throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“In their manifestos parties enshrine equal opportunities for men and women, but when the candidate list comes out, it’s dominated by men.”

A recent workshop of Gender Links and the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) network revealed a likely drop from 30.8 percent to 25 percent in the female caucus in parliament. This outcome is based on a comparison of election forecasts, and women candidates’ ranking on 13 out of 14 lists of participating political parties. Click here to read more.

Zimbabwe :  The country  losing its women and children

Some 100 children under five years of age will die today in Zimbabwe, a bleak statistic that is part of new social development data released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the government, has revealed that the situation there for women and children has deteriorated in the past five years.

The Multiple Indicator and Monitoring Survey (MIMS), which was conducted in May 2009, reported a decline in access to many key social services for women and children, particularly for the poorest populations and in rural areas.

“The MIMS data underscores the deterioration that has occurred in the social sectors in the last few years and the tragic consequences that have resulted,À said Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative. “Today and everyday in Zimbabwe 100 children below five years of age are dying of mostly preventable diseases.Àclick here to read more

Swaziland: Help Sex Workers – Senator

It is one of the world’s oldest professions, dating so far back that it is even mentioned in the Bible. But in the deeply cultural and religious country of Swaziland, Senator Thuli Msane stirred a hornet’s nest when she publicly challenged a new strict bill opposing prostitution.

Msane spoke out against arresting sex workers, when she said government should first address the humanitarian challenges that drive them into the trade.She was responding to the new proposed legislation, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, 2009. The Bill imposes a six-year imprisonment on conviction, or a fine of approximately 2,000 dollars, on people who earn a living from sex work.The Bill, which will be debated in parliament soon, also imposes a maximum sentence of 25 years and a fine of just over 13,000 dollars on those who perpetuate the trade through running brothels and using children as sex workers.

Currently the Crimes Act of 1889 imposes a fine of about 80 dollars or imprisonment for two years to anyone who entices immoral acts.Msane, who was appointed to parliament by King Mswati III last year, came under strong criticism from both traditionalists and faith-based organisations who accused her of promoting a practice which is against both Christian and cultural values.Click here to read more

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