I can only hope that in my young daughter’s lifetime, she will witness and benefit from true equality between men and women, and an end to violence against women and girls – in all its forms.
It is appalling that as a society we apparently believe that violence towards women is acceptable. I also find it reprehensible that sexist remarks and attitudes are again becoming the norm. It is well acknowledged that there is a link between racism and race-related violence or homophobia and homophobic-related violence. It is about time that we drew attention to the connection that exists between sexism and violence against women.
I believe that theatre has the ability to touch people, to arouse empathy as well as to effect social and personal change. While legislation and policy change are important civic instruments, perhaps theatre is more powerful, better at engendering and cultivating a living, breathing culture of human rights.
Violence against women has ripple effects that spread out through lives and communities. Once you know that, you can see those ripples all around you. You can see them destabilising people’s health, their aspirations and their relationships. They are present in all kinds of insidious ways, in the media, politics and even economics, in the gaps and silences where women’s voices should be heard. I want a society where girls and women don’t have to live with the fear of violence and where, if it does occur, they know that they have the full support of those around them.
Misogyny, racism, poverty and violence pervade the lives of our most vulnerable and compromise the health and wellbeing of us all. If we are committed to justice, we are responsible for countering these violations by building a society based on equity, inclusion and peace.
Education, knowledge and awareness are the three key factors I focus on in my seminars on violence against women. Working predominantly with young men and women in senior secondary schools and universities, I am passionate about facilitating discussion in this area. I firmly believe this process can collectively reduce physical and sexual violence against women.
It is every woman’s human right to live a life free of sexual assault and domestic violence. However, if she is subjected to any form of violence, it is equally her right to receive compassionate assistance in her recovery and full redress for the crime through the criminal justice system.