- The Press Council of South Africa takes issue with a call by the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for a statutory media appeals tribunal.
In a press statement, the Council’s chairperson, Raymond Louw, points out that imposing of such a tribunal on the press has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reports on the conduct of governance, including the conduct of Cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the ANC.
Louw argues that the ANC and the SACP do not want the public to be told of their poor governance, corruption by ‘tenderpreneurs’ and lavish life-styles, but want the press to report the ANC’s version of what is happening.
To read the article titled, “Press Council warns against media tribunal,” click here.Source:Mail&Guardian
- Mobile operator, Cell C, has taken the unusual step of publicly responding to criticism by comedian, Trevor Noah, in a recorded comedy clip recently posted on Facebook and YouTube.
In a full-page advertisement published in the Business Day newspaper, Cell CEO, Lars Reichelt, apologised to Noah and other Cell C customers who experience problems of coverage and lack of delivery.
In the same vein, World Wide Worx managing director, Arthur Goldstuck, has described Reichelt's conduct as ‘revolutionary’. Goldstuck states that it is a conceptual breakthrough for a company to engage with a social media initiative. He says it is unusual in South Africa and internationally for the CEO of a telecommunications company to respond to a client by way of such an initiative.
To read the article titled, “Cell C takes comedy criticism seriously,” click here.Source:All Africa
- The South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA - SA) has added its voice to those calling for the withdrawal of the Protection of Information Bill.
MISA – SA says it is deeply concerned about a number of provisions in the Bill which provides for penalties that could ensnare journalists and subject them to jail terms.
The organisation calls for the withdrawal of the Bill and its framing, after proper consultation with stakeholders such as the media, more narrowly so that the maximum amount of information is still available to the public.
To read the article titled, “MISA call: Withdraw info bill,” click here.
- Lawmakers have warned again that the Protection of Information Bill will not survive Constitutional Court scrutiny because it rides roughshod over media freedom and the democratic values of transparency and accountability.
Dario Milo, a partner at Webber Wentzel law firm making a representation on behalf of Print Media South Africa, points out that, "The ones (clauses) I have highlighted are clearly unconstitutional and the Constitutional Court would strike them down."
Addressing the ad hoc parliamentary committee on the Bill, Milo noted that that the Bill, meant to replace an apartheid-era law dating from 1982, could see investigative journalists face up to 25 years in jail for publishing information of public interest.
To read the article titled, “Information Bill unconstitutional – lawyer,” click here.Source:Independent Online
- Newspapers like the Mail & Guardian that expose corruption, mismanagement, hypocrisy and gross incompetence would not be able to do their work if the Protection of Information Bill came into force in its current form. This is according to its editor-in-chief, Nic Dawes.
Dawes has described the Bill as the biggest legislative threat yet to freedom of information in general and to the work of journalists in particular.
According to Dawes, “What the bill envisages in many ways is that we would be allowed to publish press releases (issued) by the state. It would certainly make it very dangerous for us to pursue the big stories that we publish in the public interest around corruption, mismanagement and conflicts of interest.”
To read the article titled, “M&G editor says the proposed Information Bill ‘criminalises journalism’, click here.Source:Daily Maverick
- The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) will request a meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) to have a ‘decent conversation’ about media freedom.
SANEF chairperson, Mondli Makhanya, points out that, "There seems to be a huge gulf that has developed between the ANC and the media. We want to sit down with them and a have a decent conversation."
Makhanya, who says there is no way SANEF will ever be open to the idea of such a tribunal, adds that, "A media tribunal will be unconstitutional and totally against media freedom."
To read the article titled, “SANEF wants decent talk with ANC,” click here.Source:News24
- The Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) is a professionally autonomous Centre established in 1993 on the initiative of the mass democratic movement in order to start developing education policy for a democratic South Africa. Many of South Africa’s education and training policies are based on the framework developed by the CEPD. The Centre continues to make important contributions to the development of the South African education system. It is registered as a non-profit organisation (049-221 NPO) in terms of the Nonprofit Organisation Act, 1997.
Allan Taylor, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees and Martin Prew, Director of the CEPD, cordially invite you to attend our 2010 Annual General Meeting
The main speaker will be Graeme Bloch, Educational Specialist from the Development Bank of South Africa. Graeme will be addressing us on ‘How to fix our schools’.
Venue: CEPD Boardroom - 17th Floor, Noswal Hall, 3 Stiemens Street, Braamfontein, JHB
Date: Friday, 13 August 2010
Time: 11h45 for 12h00
Dress: Business Casual
RSVP: Monday, 02 August 2010
Attention: Shatadi Moswane, tel: 011 403 6131, fax: 011 403 1130, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; cell: 0726485441
Lunch will be served at 13h30
I will attend: Yes/No
Directions to CEPD from South
From the M1 South take the Jan Smuts Avenue off-ramp (immediately after the St Andrews Road off-ramp). Go straight through at the robot (where Jan Smuts crosses Empire Road) and go up the hill, with Wits University on your right.
Go through the next robot (Ameshoff St), and take the first street left into Stiemens St (a one way East).
Our building is on the left, 17thFloor, Noswal Hall, 03 Stiemens Street.
Directions to CEPD from North
From the M1 Northturn left from the Smit Street off-ramp. Turn left into Bertha Street and left into Stiemens.
Our building is on the left – 17th Floor, Noswal Hall,03 Stiemens Street.
For Public Parking:
You may use Braamfontein Centre, entrance in Stiemens Street Opposite entrance to Noswal Hall
Call Shatadi Moswane to make arrangementsEvent start date:13/08/2010Event end date:13/08/2010Event venue:CEPD Boardroom - 17th Floor, Noswal Hall, 3 Stiemens Street, Braamfontein, JHB
- Many South African men do not respect the constitutionally conferred rights of women citizens. Every year thousands of women are raped in South Africa - one every seven seconds, an average of 1 300 every day.(2) These frightening statistics suggest that rape is a part of a culture of violence in which acts such as rape have become normative in the lives of many men and women. Normative violence against women is based on distorted ideas perpetuated by certain factions who cling to patriarchal beliefs that often resemble misogyny.
Rape is ‘psychological theft’ of a woman’s dignity. Shame silences victims, and the One in Nine Campaign was started to address this issue of silence. The campaign was introduced in February 2006 to show solidarity with rape survivor, Khwezi Johnson, during the Jacob Zuma rape trial, and now supports many other women who speak up against the perpetrators of sexual violence.(3) This paper examines the importance of solidarity in dealing with the culture of violence against women and the dangers of silence about violence. It discusses the silent protest held by Rhodes University students in solidarity with the One in Nine Campaign as an example of the power of supportive acts to help women speak out against perpetrators of sexual violence.
Rhodes University silent protest 2010
On April 23 2010, Rhodes University staged their annual ‘Sexual Violence = Silence’ protest in partnership with the One in Nine Campaign. Rhodes staff members and students showed their support for women who spoke out against sexual violence. Through this campaign, the women and men at Rhodes University were able to demonstrate they have had enough of violence and are ready to take a stand against those who infringe on the rights of women. Rhodes students and staff have engaged in these silent protests for the past four years. Participants do not eat or drink the whole day, then break the fast together during a debriefing session where all those involved come together and talk about their experiences.
More than 800 people supported the march this year. Students and staff members used the opportunity to participate in various roles. Women ‘silenced’ themselves with black tape over their mouths and from 07h45 to 18h00 they did not eat or drink. In order to show the world the reason for their protest, they wore T-shirts with the words “Sexual Violence = Silence” and when asked what they were doing, handed out flyers explaining their protest. Men also acted in support of rape victims. They wore T-shirts proclaiming their solidarity with rape victims as men. They were encouraged to speak out against sexual violence throughout the day. They spoke to other men about rape and discussed their attitudes towards women. Rape victims also spoke out during the protest, and wore T-shirts proclaiming that they are rape survivors.
The protests also included a ‘Die-in’ outside Rhodes University’s clock tower, where protestors lay on the ground and had chalk outlines made of themselves, as if a mass murder had been committed. The protest ended with a march titled ‘Take Back the Night’ where all those who participated in the day’s activities marched through the streets of Grahamstown shouting chants and slogans, in a symbolic effort to reclaim the rights of women to walk safely at night.
Sexual Violence Equals Silence
The aim of the Rhodes protest was to break the silence of victims of sexual violence. But why does silence warrant such protest and why does speaking out require so much support? Feminist theorist, Martha Nussbaum, provides a theoretical framework to answer these questions. Her work reveals how the effects of false gender perceptions can feed into a society as violence. Sexual interaction between men and women is riddled with ambiguous messages and when sex is forced, there are significant differences between men and women’s perceptions. “Most men who forced sex did not recognise how coercive the women thought their behaviour was,”(4) says Nussbaum.
Sometimes, perpetrators think that women want sexual intercourse even though they may have said “no”. Quoting a United States judge, Nussbaum notes that, "...men often indulge in wishful thinking about women’s wishes and (whether hypocritically or sincerely) convince themselves that aggressive behaviour is what the situation calls for."(5)
The causes and effects of harmful perceptions are not limited to the actions of the perpetrator. The perceptions of rape victims and their societies play a key role in the way women respond to rape. In the United States, it is perceived as ‘normal’ that men commit sexually violent acts, writes Nussbaum. It is “something women just have to put up with.”(6) The ‘normalcy’ of sexual violence effectively shifts the blame for rape from the perpetrator to the victim. The victim feels that she may have led the man on. Consequently, rape victims feel ashamed and degradation, and often reject the idea of legal action. They may feel it is unacceptable to be angry or complain about their assault,(7) because they themselves carry some or all of the responsibility for what happened to them. A woman may, for example, have consented to kissing or petting, but not to the act of sex. Her consent to petting may then be framed as her ‘asking’ to be raped by friends, family and authorities.(8)
In effect, silence about rape confirms the ‘normalcy’ of sexual violence. By not speaking out against their perpetrators, women acknowledge that the actions against them are indeed the norm and an acceptable one at that. In order to break these norms of violence, it is critical for everyone to be more aware of the harmful effects, not just of violence against women, but also the associated silence. When women speak out against sexual violence, they not only challenge norms but also empower themselves by re-defining the acceptable. When women speak out, they are no longer passive, fragile victims. They become strong beacons of light, courage and justice.
Breaking the silence
According to Nussbaum, our perceptions about rape victims are distorted in three ways, namely:
1. By false beliefs or lack of information, which lead to assumptions that justify abusive acts. For example, the belief that women who express their sexuality are asking for sex is a seriously misguided attitude underpinned by patriarchal ideas about male control over female sexuality;
2. By a general lack of reflection on societal norms when deciding what may or may not be considered harmful to women;
3. By the lack of options for victims on possible courses of action to take after assault. Many women feel unable to press charges or speak out against rapists because they fear more victimisation by the legal system and its officers, as well as negative social judgement by friends, family and others.(9)
It is clear that the Rhodes protest attempted to address issues such as those identified by Nussbaum. The silent protest raises awareness about sexual assault through the shocking image of women gagged with black tape, which serves as a reminder that many women experience a silence of their own. The T-shirts speak for the muted women in the protest in the same way that the protestors are speaking for the women they show solidarity with. The men who speak out against harmful perceptions of women and violence are also extremely important in the protest: they show that rape is not only a women’s issue, but that sexual violence is very much a male issue, too.
The most important function of this protest, however, is that it encourages and exposes more options for victims of sexual violence. By expressing their status as ‘raped’, the women not only bravely refuse to be ashamed victims, they also bring the reality of rape to everyday life. They show that sadly, any women can be raped and that all women are vulnerable to rape. It is important to address distorted images of raped women because they are easily stereotyped as ‘sluts’ or ‘sexual women’, ideas with a variety of misleading connotations.
When raped women speak out they encourage other women to admit that they had been raped and to let go of the shame they may feel. During the debriefing session that evening, a few victims of rape openly admitted to their assault for the first time. The ordeals of the other victims gave them the courage to admit to their own abuse. Through courage and support, raped women are afforded the option to speak out and take action against rapists.
The ‘Take Back the Night’ march allowed the protestors to engage in a symbolic act of defiance against the norms of society which perpetuate harmful, false beliefs. Women feel vulnerable to dangers in their community, but this fact is twisted into a cause of rape that blames women for being raped. Instead of holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and making sure that streets are safe, women are expected to limit their physical mobility to avoid the animals that roam the streets .The march allowed the protestors to gain closure to the day’s protest by releasing their frustrations and to show their community that some serious changes are necessary.
The next step - Change!
One of the biggest challenges to addressing sexual violence in South Africa is the fear of speaking out. Many cases of assault go unreported. It is important for South African society to realise that all of us can make a difference in fighting these acts. By making ourselves as well as others aware of perceptions that contribute to harm of women, we can challenge unacceptable norms. Even those unaffected by violence can play a part in the eradication of violence by engaging in acts of solidarity and providing a safe space for victims to speak out against their perpetrators without judgement, even if the law fails them. In an interview with the One in Nine Campaign, Khwezi Johnson fittingly quoted Martin Luther King Jr:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things which matter.(10)
- Motlatsi Khosi is an External Consultant in Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit The June edition of the Gender Issues Newsletter is republished here with permission from Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI), a South African-based research and strategy firm with a focus on social, health, political and economic trends and developments in Africa. For more information, see http://www.consultancyafrica.com or http://www.ngopulse.org/press-release/consultancy-africa-intelligence. Alternatively, click here to take advantage of CAI’s free, no obligation, 1-month trial to the company’s Standard Report Series.
In addition to topical discussion papers and tailored research services, CAI releases a number of fortnightly and monthly publications, examining the latest developments in Africa, across a wide range of interest areas. Interested parties can click here to take advantage of CAI’s free, no obligation, 1-month trial to any/all of the CAI publications.
For more information, see http://www.consultancyafrica.com or http://www.ngopulse.org/press-release/consultancy-africa-intelligence.
(1) Motlatsi Khosi is an External Consultant in Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit (email@example.com).
(2) Global rape statistics, http://www.nationmaster.com/.
(3) For more information on the One in Nine Campaign, visit http://www.oneinnine.org.za.
(4) Nussbaum M. C. 1993. In defence of femininity: Commentary on Sandra Bartky’s Femininity and domination. In Hypatia, 8(1): 178-191.
(5) Ibid, p140.
(6) Ibid, p137.
(7) Ibid, p141.
(8) Ibid, p141.
(9) Ibid, p149.
- “In the presence of a member of the Party, the people are silent […] But when the evening comes, away from the village, in the cafes or by the river, the bitter unceasing anger makes itself heard” - Franz Fanon
The time has come for us to give power back to the people. The working poor are exhausted by the cycle of poverty that traps them in informal settlements and townships where seething anger against the state often breaks out into violence and mounting xenophobic attacks as people compete for scarce resources.
One big focus is education. Our children are robbed of quality education because we as parents are not involved. We do not demand that decisive action is taken against teachers who arrive late, are unprepared for their lessons and are sometimes abusive or drunk. Most teachers are dedicated professionals but there is a minority that deny our children the right to quality education. We appear not to be outraged when computer laboratories opened with great fanfare lay unused, or where school libraries, sporting and laboratory facilities are simply nonexistent.
Today there is a pervasive restlessness as youths contemplate prospects post-school where a matriculation pass does not guarantee employment. Having to face a future of joblessness is debilitating because work gives one human dignity and purpose. In South Africa, over half of our youth between 15 and 24 years are unemployed and are unlikely to ever get a job. Of the 4.3 million unemployed, over 3.2 million are between 15 and 35.
Add this to the experience of trying to enter the job market with limited skills, with warding off the ever-present lure of drug and alcohol abuse, a threatened sense of belonging and identity and what you have is a toxic mix potentially fueling fatalistic behaviour, which our country can ill afford - especially not with our reality of HIV and AIDS.
If we look at other countries, especially fragile and post-conflict states where youths have unmet expectations, what we see is a ticking time bomb. In countries and states where violence is endemic these young people constitute the core of militias that rampage through society driving narrow political interests and crime. This is particularly sobering as developing countries present a ‘youth bulge’, a largely youthful population group.
Many young people I have spoken to over the years through work with an NGO dealing with HIV/AIDS amongst youth, say they feel alienated by the language of an older generation which consistently juxtaposes the waywardness of today’s youth with the commitment and dedication to the freedom struggle of their elders or parents. They feel increasingly marginalised and angered by the wealth they see, but know they will never have. A wealth they associate with a 'connected elite', while they are forced to face the reality of their own lives and the hardships their parents still endure.
Consequently, they are drawn to demagogues who spew rhetoric that appeals to the base of their unmet expectations, and identify with leadership that promises ‘voice’ and change.
We all want change. The restlessness that permeates the air is of ordinary people not afraid to ask questions and who are not intimidated by political or commercial pressures. It is the ‘unceasing anger’ of people frustrated by not being assured the potential of employment or decent work and by the lack of dignity in not being able to put food on the table.
In our quest to improve the lives of our people, and to deepen democracy we are compelled to strengthen civil society. The NGO sector and social movements played a critical role in our fight for freedom; and must be harnessed to face new demands of transparency and accountability.
The mistake we made was to think that all our socio-economic challenges would disappear once we had our freedom. In developing a comprehensive programme of reconstruction and development, many NGOs and civics felt their raison d’être was achieved and no longer relevant or needed in a new South Africa. NGO projects and leadership were subsumed into the state structures, compromising a power once had. Volunteerism by a broad section of our diverse society - the bedrock of our resistance movement - dissipated and the culture of servant leadership appears somewhat of a figment of a bygone era.
A new people’s contract demands that those in power and in political office serve with humility; that corruption will not be tolerated; that jobs and decent work will be prioritised; that ‘tenderpreneurs’ and a predatory elite who corrupt state officials, steal licences and buy and sell tenders are exposed; that our civil liberties are protected; and that leaders account for babies dying in our hospitals.
We need to go back to the lessons of the Eighties. Social mobilisation and powerful and informed grassroots organisations are what won us our political freedom. Today we face a new war against poverty, inequality and corruption. We need to stand united against mediocrity and non performance and the poor will be the centre of our debates, policies, programmes and delivery. We need more voices to challenge power with the TRUTH.
- Jay Naidoo’s memoir, Fighting for Justice, is available at all leading bookstores. To contact Jay Naidoo or purchase the book, visit The Just Cause.
SANGONeT and The Just Cause are offering 12 autographed copies of Jay Naidoo’s book to NGO Pulse readers. To win a copy, please visit www.thejustcause.org and submit your entry of a volunteer effort that can be replicated or used as a model of volunteerism.
- Google has launched new detailed maps of South Africa which are accessible on Google Maps through any web browser or via Google Maps for Mobile on data enabled handsets.
Country manager for Google SA, Stephen Newton, points out that, "Google Maps is a valuable addition to the list of products that we're launching specifically for South Africans, given the market's importance to us.”
Newton states that, “Our goal with Maps is to make information with a geographical dimension available to everyone and to allow users to update the maps and develop on top of them.”
To read the article titled, “Google launches maps for South Africa,” click here.Source:Witness