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REMEMBERING DIS(RE)MEMBERING Poster: "Women's Empowerment?"

Today, Khulumani marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, by publishing its comic art poster entitled "Women's Empowerment?". What is your response to this image? How does the picture speak to you about the situation of women in society and in South Africa in particular?

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the commemoration of November 25 as International Day of No Violence against Women in memory of the three politically active Mirabel sisters from Dominican Republic who were assassinated on this day in 1960 by dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Women's rights groups in Latin America and the Caribbean first marked the day as International Day of No VIolence Against Women in 1981.

Ten years later on the same date, the international campaign, known as 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, was launched by a group of women meeting for the first time at the Women's Global Leadership Institute at Rutgers University in the United States.

The 16 Days concludes on December 10, International Human Rights Day, with the purpose of raising awareness that violence against women violates women's human rights.

December 6 is remembered each year as the anniversary of the gunning down of 14 women engineering students at the University of Montreal in Canada by a young man who had failed to secure a place at the university for himself to study engineering. The day commemorates this event as the Montreal Massacre with the murdered young women being symbols of injustice against women.

For South Africans, we remember the hate killing of the 19 year old gay rights activist, Zoliswa Nkonyana,who was stabbed and stoned to death in Khayelitsha on February 4th 2006. The trial of her murderers has taken nearly 6 years to be concluded with court proceedings having been postponed more than 40 times. Four young men have been found guilty of Zoliswa's murder. The case has been postponed to December 5 with sentencing being set for December 19 and 20.

The background paper for the Hate Crimes Working Group explains that South Africa continues to struggle with a major legacy of apartheid - intolerance towards ‘difference’ - be it in terms of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other such factors. Fifteen years after South Africa’s first democratic elections, the country is still grappling to find ways to better manage ‘difference’. Some examples include race-related killings, the ‘corrective’ rape of black lesbians and regular incidents of xenophobic violence. These are not simply 'criminal' incidents as officials try to portray them. They are crimes motivated by discrimination and prejudice, as the attached background paper makes very clear. (See http://www.cormsa.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/hate-crimes-working-group-background-paper.pdf) The paper identifies three key areas for interventions to address hate crimes: 1) reforming the policing of hate crimes, 2) improving the judicial response to hate crimes and 3) developing improved monitoring of cases of hate crimes.

Khulumani commits to engaging in the ongoing work of educating for the elimination of the prejudice that underlies all hate crimes. Khulumani representatives from the Western Cape will be taking part in the coming week's dialogue being organised by the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative of the South African Human Rights Commission. The details of the dialogue are as follows:
Date:                                        29 November 2011
Venue:                                     Lecture Theatre 3, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus,University of Cape Town
Time:                                       09h00 – 13h30

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