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Action Alert, Feminism, Gender Violence, Human Rights, Queer Politics

Western Cape 07-07-07 Campaign launch

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The 07-07-07-Campaign to end hate against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersexed (LGBTI) persons was launched at the Saartjie Baartman Centre, Heideveld in Cape Town on the 2nd anniversary commemorating the violent and brutal death of 19 year old Zoliswa Nkonyana (04/02/06). The provincial campaign is being spearheaded by Cape Town’s Triangle Project, the oldest LGBTI service organisation in the country in partnership with the national Joint Working Group (JWG) and the Western Cape 07-07-07 Alliance partners.

The 07-07-07-Campaign was initiated by the JWG following the brutal and violent murders of two lesbians, Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massoa in Soweto on 07 July 2007, and is so named after the deaths of these activists and human rights defenders.

Manager of Community Engagement and Empowerment at Triangle Project said: “Black lesbians in townships and rural communities are continued targets of corrective rape; verbal, sexual and physical abuse; plagued by violence and trapped by the collective oppressions of sexism, homo-prejudice, negative hetero-normative values, subversive patriarchal structures and misogyny — often leading to brutal and cruel deaths.”

“Very often, other vulnerable individuals such as effeminate men or ‘cross-dressers’ and ‘butch women’ are humiliated and publicly shamed, with no support from local authorities, politicians or religious leaders.”

Speakers at the launch all echoed sentiments of utter outrage and anger. “How can we be truly free if individuals on the margins of society are not free? When one individual suffers, we all suffer,” said Forum for the Empowerment of Women’s Dawn O’Reilly who delivered the keynote address. “When our bodies are being violated because of power borne out of hatred and prejudice, and one’s personhood is oppressed and made less because of sexual orientation and sexual identity, then we have to say very boldly that it’s not okay! We are outraged!”

Dr Yvette Abrahams from the Commission for Gender Equality who pleaded with ordinary persons who carry the power within themselves to be catalysts of positive change in the own communities, said: “We are divine creations regardless of who we are. We need to recognise the humanity within each other and embrace a spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ to combat acts of hatred and violence, regardless of our sexual orientation, sexual and gender identities.”

Funeka Soldaat representing Women in Action, Khayelitsha where Zoliswa lived and was murdered urged the 07-07-07 Alliance to be visible and to mobilise the community because women’s livelihoods are being compromised and lives are lost on a daily basis. “Let this not be a campaign on paper, but a campaign that will be an active voice for the most vulnerable and violated,” she pleaded.

The main speakers were joined on the platform by diverse voices from the religious communities who made a passionate appeal to faith communities to practice acceptance, inclusion and compassion.

The Western Cape 07-07-07 Alliance aims to put the spotlight on the disparity between our progressive constitution and the implementation of human rights on the most basic level. “We further aim to document incidents of hate and gender-based violence against black lesbians in townships and rural communities, and to put structures and programmes in place where these crimes can be reported and victims can be supported,” said Valentine.

The Western Cape 07-07-07 Alliance consists of LGBTI organizations and activists; the Women and HIV/AIDS sectors, as well as individual human rights activists working together to put an end to all forms hate.

Marlow Valentine

WC Alliance Coordinator

CONTACTS
Triangle Project: Marlow Valentine: (021) 448 3812 / endhate at triangle dot org dot za or marlow@triangle.org.za

Commission on Gender Equality: Keegan Lakay: (021) 426 4080 / keeganl at cge dot org. dot za

WC Network on Violence against Women: Caroline Davids: 021-6335287 / caroline at womenscentre dot co dot za

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