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Movement launched against gender-based violence
Sharief Ajam during his demonstration of self-defence moves. Photo:supplied

An initiative to raise funds for NGOs in the Eastern Cape which are dedicated to fighting gender-based violence (GBV), was recently launched with a poetry evening at the Roof Garden Café.

The “She is me and I am her” initiative was founded by Felleng Hessini and, although it is not yet registered as a non-profit organisation, its current goal is not only to raise money but also to collect clothing, blankets and other essentials for organisations that include: the Thuthuzela Care Centre, Giving Gifts of Love to Newborn Babies, the Rape Crisis Centre in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Maranatha Youth Centre, among others.

Hessini described the initiative as a movement in the form of a series of poems written and performed by women from different backgrounds and social standings, who believe that an injustice to one woman is an injustice to all.

“These women, despite their differences, share in the pain of the abuse, rape and murders of women and children in South Africa. The poets themselves may be survivors or observers of abuse. Perhaps they are women simply repulsed by the alarming statistics of these crimes against women and children to date.

“This initiative seeks to add support to the movements that are already in existence and work towards helping victims of such atrocities,” she said.

Fitsmart Health Gym’s Sharief Ajam and his son, Umar, demonstrated a few self-defence moves at the recent launch of the “She is me and I am her” movement.

Hessini added that although it is a movement established by women for women, it is not limited to this gender. “It is the hope of the organisation to later incorporate rehabilitated men who have previously been convicted of their crimes against women and children. Their stories may also help to heal to the wounds they have inflicted on their victims and inspire other men to see the errors of their ways,” Hessini said.

At the launch, seven young women from the Maranatha Streetworkers Trust, took to the stage with the interpretation of the theme, “she is me and I am her”.

Their poetry highlighted how abuse can affect any woman and child at any stage in their lives. It held messages of hope and emphasised that one can overcome one’s past and have a better, brighter future if only more individuals and organisations would extend a helping hand.

A young man, only referred to as Joshua, was moved to write a poem that gave the audience a unique view of GBV through the eyes of a young man. He emphasised that it was not just the responsibility of women to speak out against these injustices, but that of men too.

Also present at the launch was Fitsmart Health Gym’s Sharief Ajam, who used his more than 20 years’ experience in martial arts to demonstrate a few self-defence moves that women could use to protect themselves.

“I share in the fund-raiser’s belief that prevention is better than cure and as such, more effort needs to be put into equipping women and children with the fundamental skills to protect themselves, should they end up in situations that greatly compromise their safety,” he said.

To help young women and children in the long run, Hessini said they are working on establishing a design academy that will teach basic lessons on garment construction.

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