The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children hosted their annual Air Your Dirty Laundry event on Thursday, which culminated in hundreds of t-shirts with powerful messages speaking out against violence being hung-up on makeshift washing lines. Director Shaheema McLeod told VOC News there has been an increase in domestic violence against women. However, MecLeod adds that there has also been an increase in women coming out and sharing their stories to expose the realities of abuse.
The campaign saw pupils from surrounding schools participate through painting their messages on t-shirts which was then displayed for all to see. McLeod further added that this concept highlights the perceptions of young people regarding violence within their homes and showcases the far reaching effects of domestic abuse.
“We are celebrating the campaign which gives children an opportunity to express their views around gender based violence for the whole community to see. The reason why we have taken pupils from different communities is to show that violence happens everywhere and touches everyone the exact same way regardless of their backgrounds and social standings,” McLeod added.
Eric Titus, a grade eleven pupil from Christel House Academy said in his community on the cape flats, gender based violence is seen every day.
“I want to bring out a message to all the youth of our society. The abuse has an impact on me and everyone around me. If we see violence taking place every day, we can also fall into that cycle but I want young people to know that they have the power to end the cycle,” Titus pleaded.
Meanwhile, fellow Christel House Academy pupil, Nganathi Nzuli appealed to the broader community to work towards a society where women are seen as equal to men and children are not just treated as property. A colourful display of painted t-shirts reading messages of no violence covered the centre’s front yard for motorists and passers-by to see.
Officials from the local police department as well as the fire and rescue services joined in the event and informed the young crowd about the safety services open to them if ever they’re met with a situation where they feel threatened and scared.
This initiative comes during the annual 16 Days of Activism of no violence against women and children. For help and information around gender based violence, contact the Saartjie Bartman Centre on 021 637 3487. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)