The Wednesday, Human Rights Day, Africa Unite joined forces with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and Activate! to discuss gender-based violence (GBV) in the community of Phillipe and South Africa as a whole. The event was held in Phillipe Village and was host to a vast demographic.
In attendance were members of NGOs, community members, Health Department officials, sex workers, academics and professionals.
The intention of this event was to bring together members from far reaching areas of Cape Town to commemorate Human Rights Day and discuss Gender Based Violence. The Imbizo’s purpose was to use the metaphor of a tree to discuss the “rotten apples” of Cape Town’s current gender climate and what unhealthy roots made them. After this, the group was to brainstorm a “dream tree” comprised of healthy apples that reflected a gender just society.
Participants were able to observe the rotten tree before them and speak about its inability to provide what we need from a healthy tree. Its fruit was rotten, its branches mangled and its roots weak. Participants mentioned that although the tree was rotten, the tree was still standing and that to them, this indicated hope for a healthy future. Each participant was asked to pick a leaf from the tree. On each leaf was written a fact about the current state of GBV in South Africa.
The group then took the leaves and read aloud the facts. Following this, the group was able to discuss what roots had caused the rotten fruits of the tree. Participants found the root causes to range from cultural beliefs and misinterpretation to a lack of empowerment for women. Poor education, patriarchal ideals, ignorance and false information spread, religion, lack of unity, limited spaces to create dialog and more were also identified among the root causes of GBV.
Following this, the group was encouraged to pick a root cause and imagine what the world might look like if that cause was fixed/did not exist. The group then came together to create a “dream tree” that reflects what they wish to see in a gender just society. The group decided that a gender just society would be indicated by equality, dialog, peace, awareness, tolerance, ubuntu, protection of victims, fair treatment of all genders, and fair economic opportunities.
This was the desired society that the group came up with and pasted their prosperous leaves onto the dream tree. After this, two attendees shared their stories about their participation in sex work and their position to decriminalize it. The group then had the opportunity to reflect on the event and their role moving forward and share, should they wish. The reflections followed a theme of praise for the creation of a space in which dialog can occur, that we all must now act together and not in solitary, that we must fight for all humans rights and that the rotten apples must fall in order to fertilize the soil from which a dream tree will grow. Following these reflections, the Imbizo ended with a thank you, and a song.