#NotInMyName: A New South African Civil Rights Movement Is Fighting to Change Perspectives
"It is us men who are killing and abusing women."
The alarming rate at which South African women and children are killed and abused has motivated a group of men from Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, to stand up and fight against femicide and gender-based violence (GBV).
The year-old civil rights movement, #NotInMyName, was formed by activists Siyabulela Jentile and Themba Masango after the murder of the young Johannesburg woman Karabo Mokoena in 2017.
Mokoena was 22 when she was killed by her ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe, who was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 32 years in prison earlier this year.
Speaking at a march held in Pretoria last year, Jentile said men were responsible for the deaths of women like Mokoena.
“It is us men who are killing and abusing women,” Jentile said.
In South Africa, femicide and rape, targeting women and girls, is a serious problem.
According to Africa Check, a nonprofit that aims to improve news gathering, the police recorded 40,035 rapes in 2017-2018, up from 39,828 in 2016-2017 — an average of 110 rapes every day.
But the nonprofit cited the Institute for Security Studies, in warning that "rape statistics recorded by the police cannot be taken as an accurate measure of either the extent or trend of this crime."
Meanwhile, South Africa's femicide rate is about five times higher than the global average, and Africa Check has verified that the rate has also been increasing over the past five years.
“The South African Police Service (SAPS) records the number of women murdered in the country," it said. "When this data is compared with population estimates, a murder rate can be calculated,” it said.
#Police Sekhukhune says 7 355 women were raped in Gauteng between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, which represents a 8.4% increase. Rape went up by 6.5% in KwaZulu-Natal, where 4009 women reported rape pic.twitter.com/YixDCn5a6A— SA Gov News (@SAgovnews) August 29, 2018
Africa Check said a recent report by SAPS focsuing on crimes against women showed that, in the 2017-2018 financial year, 15.2 out of every 100,000 women had been murdered.
“This is the highest the rate has been in the past five years and represents a 16% increase over the period,” the organisation said.
It's for these reasons, among many others, that Jentile is calling on men to change their abusive behavior towards women.
“We will become better for you, our sons will become better men," he said. "We apologise for abusing you. We failed you."
Im so proud to be part of the #notinmynamesa,as how the Mamelodi branch have taken a stand today with a massive March,to show the government that we are here to stay and that we don't support the social injustices and femicide in our communities,big ups to you nyoras✊✊✊— Magdeline Boshomane (@MagdelineBosho5) May 9, 2018
He told Global Citizen that, as a civil rights movement, the focus of #NotInMyName is to empower South Africans to understand and use the powers they possess through the Constitution.
“Our campaign is not just about women and gender-based violence (GBV), but it is a major focus for the first phase of our work," he said. "Highlighting this issue will drive a broad process of reflection and discussion about the quality of life in South Africa and to look beyond GBV and focus on issues of socio-economic and social injustice."
#NotInMyName also works with communities to hold both local and national government accountable for their actions or inactiveness.
“Consolidating our position within civil society and enabling civil society organisations to take on key issues relating to leadership and governance,” Jentile said.
He said the movement’s leadership is a loose network of activists led by a strong steering committee.
As a mother I cannot even begin to understand how the parents of the little girl must feel. Her life is shattered and her innocence is gone, the family will never ever be the same. This person must rot in jail #NotinmynameSA#DROS— Kim Robinson (@Kimbelshanks) September 27, 2018
“We believe that solutions to any societal problem must of necessity come from people within that affected community. #NotInMyName is driving the campaign of solutions by the people for the people,” he explained.
As well as gender issues, the movement also focuses on social injustice and the socio-economic issues that are damaging South African societies.
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