We’re very proud to report that the FEMALIVE Commemorative Silent Walk on Friday 26th November in Cape Town was an unqualified success, and achieved it aims of raising the call for an end to violence against women who use drugs, and against Gender-Based Violence, just as the Global 16 Days of Activism Against GBV commenced for its 2021 campaign.
Every year toward the end of November and first part of December, the world turns its attention to the issue of Gender-Based Violence as the 16 Days Of Global Activism puts the spotlight on violence against women. This year, as the Global 16 Days organisation commemorates 30 years of 16 Days campaigns, a number of organisations whose focus is on women’s rights and associated issues that affect key populations have supported the 2021 round of 16 days – and among them was our own SANPUD team.
The FEMALIVE Commemorative Silent Walk against GBV and in support of ending violence against women who use drugs was conceived and driven by our Change Facilitator, Charne Roberts, with strong support from team members for whom these issues are a reality and one which they feel strongly about. As an organisation whose aim is to support the rights of those who use drugs, our SANPUD team see and experience the violence that women who use drugs are subjected to.
The location of the Silent Walk was selected as Seapoint Promenade, due to its open spaces and prominence as a public space in which a large group would be seen and heard. And we can proudly say that on the day – despite oncoming heavy rain – there were 47 attendees (excluding SANPUD staff, and 16 people that joined online) who gathered to show their solidarity against GBV and to make a stand for an end to violence against women who use drugs. Our Walk on the day started at 1pm, at Mouille Point Lighthouse, and embarked on a return walk to and from the Lighthouse.
Our team set up the mustering point at 11am, which was where participants were asked to sign a register and be checked for COVID protocols. This is also where the printed FEMALIVE banner, bearing the message ‘MY BODY, MY PROPERTY!” as well as an illustration supplied by funder Women and Harm Reduction International Network that called for an end to violence against women who use drugs.
Prior to the march announcements were made across all SANPUD’s online channels, including social media and our own website and that of aligned partner organisations such as Aidsfonds and Love Alliance. During the announcement campaign, registrants were given the opportunity to sign up for a T-shirt in their size (in women’s or men’s cut) to wear on the day and keep as a memento. Like the banner, the T-shirts also featured a bold ‘MY BODY, MY PROPERTY!’ statement, printed in the WHRIN organisation’s purple tone.
The turnout on the day was excellent, and consisted of a number of people affected by GBV and violence against women who use drugs. So much so, that shortly after 1pm, a crowd of around 75 people embarked on the Silent Walk on the popular promenade, generating interest from many passersby, thus helping raise awareness. Spreading this awareness, our SANPUD Facebook channels broadcast the Silent Walk via live video feeds which generated additional local and global viewers who voiced their support online.
Special thanks go out to team member Precious, who handled two live video feeds calmly and with flair despite crazy wind and rainy conditions.
Though the rain did arrive, and though hectic Cape storm winds thrashed our mustering point gazebo, none of this dampened the spirits of those who had come together in solidarity. Once back at the end of the successful march, participants were then asked to sign the banner as a declaration of solidarity. Of those that attended, many were from aligned and partner organisations that SANPUD collaborates with to provide support and services for marginalised key populations.
These included advocates and health and human rights activists from TB/HIV Care, Inkunzi Isematholeni Foundation, SisterLove, Street People’s Forum, the PWID Opioid Substance Therapy Programme, Going Forward Network, JL Training Journeys, AIDS Foundation South Africa, NACOSA – and also members of the Woodstock SAPS, to whom members of the SANPUD team have provided harm reduction training for some years.
To those that attended, we extend our grateful appreciation – thank you all for joining us in fighting the good fight and raising the voice of women who use drugs that have been the victims of Gender-Based Violence!
We look forward to future gatherings in which we can continue to come together in solidarity to make the world a safer and more caring place for those whose voices often remain unheard or ignored. To the funders WHRIN, we extend our deepest thanks for making the Silent Walk possible.
To the Global 16 Days Organisation, we send thanks for their tireless work over 30 years and for enabling our activity in Cape Town to be featured on their global map of 16 Days events. And to all allies and partner organisations, we again send our love and appreciation for standing beside us on our journey together.
Plans are already afoot for next year's Silent Walk - keep an eye on our website and social media for news on that, and join us as we stand in solidarity with the marginalised, brutalised and stigmatised whose voices have remain unheard for too long.
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