Sekwanele. (It’s Over. Enough is Enough.)

Protection strategies for unrelenting violence against women and girls in rural South Africa

Sekwanele is a new project a group of women in rural RDP Village, Mpumalanga have launched, in response to the rampant violence against women and girls in this village, the unrelenting sexual assault and the belief that a lot of men have, that women exist for their use and abuse.

The women say “NO MORE”. “It’s OVER”.

Zingela Ulwazi, stands with these women who are doing the hard work of trying to change culture and the dominant mindset, by providing self-defence classes to a group of 20 women who are all survivors of sexual assault, some multiple attacks. They’re amazing women, courageous, humble, loving, generous, and we want to help them be safe in their village AND change a decaying entitled, abusive patriarchal system.

 

Abuse, by Werner Vermeulen (1994) (Gratitude to the artist for allowing us to use this work for the Sekwanele campaign)

 

More about Sekwanele …..

We had a request from some of the women in the Reconstruction and Development Programme Village (RDP) where we run Permaculture Explorers (a project synthesising permaculture and business development training), to help them find a way around the appalling sexual violence that is tearing through the village. This is nothing new, but the women feel that not enough is being done to change the patriarchal culture of violence that has somehow been normalised.

This year alone, we have witnessed a 12 year old in the village be raped and stabbed so badly that she stopped talking for 6 months, and is just now recovering. Unbelievably, the perpetrator is now back in the village after a few months’ jail time, and the girl has had to leave the village. Several of the women in our workshop are trapped in violent relationships, and we have tragically lost one of our most promising participants, whose husband beat her so badly that she had to leave the village, or risk losing her life and endangering anyone who helped her.

The situation is desperate : the women have endured this hardship for decades, but we are seeing directly how young women’s futures are being demolished by predatory men. Again, an incredibly promising young woman in the village missed her chance to get into university after a man broke into her room the night before her Physics exam. She was so traumatised, being a victim of previous assault, that she was unable to apply herself.

We need your help. The women in the village have declared that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and are initiating this program called ‘Sekwanele’, which means ‘Its Over. Enough is Enough.’ They are doing the work of liaising with the Traditional Authority and community structures to change the way women are treated, and with the Department of Social Development, Police Services and other NGOs to get more support around protection. They have a number of strategies to increase their safety, including building a network of allies in the village who will help should they get into trouble.

We launched the self defence classes on Saturday 21st November 2020, to a full class. Whereas the women have been quiet, even subdued in previous meetings, they came out in full force and excelled at learning the strikes and poses. This is the beginning of a year long journey where they will train twice a month with Kru Xania, a Sensei and multiple black belt Muay Thai, Jujitsu and mixed martial arts trainer, who has turned her exceptional skill to specifically teaching South African women how to protect themselves.

We raised the money to cover the costs of running a 3 month pilot. It is clear that this training is going to be in huge demand, and moving forward, we need to raise the balance of funds to ensure the 20 women can complete their year long training, and to support the women in their advocacy work.

We are appealing to our network to connect us to organisations and businesses who would love to support this work. We have already raised ZAR27,000 (US$1,690 / £1,350) and only have to raise ZAR116,150 (US$7,300 / £5,800) to run this program for a year. It will change dozens of women’s lives and support the women of RDP Village’s quest for transformation, from second class citizens to valuable, treasured members of the community.

We are registered for tax deductability in South Africa.  We can also receive donations in the US through one of our partner organisations, who has 501c3 (non-profit) status, and can issue tax exemptions, so please contact us if you would like to participate utilising these benefits.

As we scale up this project, we aim to train 8 women to be trainers, so that more women and girls can be empowered to stand up for their rights and bodily integrity.

If you would personally like to make a donation, please click on the DONATE button on this page, and mark your contribution ‘Sekwanele’ or ‘Its Over’. Please inbox or email me (stella@zingelaulwazi.org.za) if you can connect us to potential funders. Thank you, blessings to you and WOMANDLA !!

“There has been too much suffering, too much violence. It must end now.”

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