2014 South Africa GBV Training

Cape Town: Training Video Activists on Interviewing Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

WITNESS trained South African video activists on  how to safely and ethically interview survivors of gender based violence this September. The training was conducted by Bukeni Waruzi, WITNESS Senior Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East, and took place in Cape Town.

Sara Federlein, WITNESS’ Associate Director, Foundations, participated in the training and writes on The WITNESS Blog that while South Africa has strong legal protections for sexual minorities, activists still need to focus on public perceptions of these issues in order to create change.

“I’ve learned, for instance, that South Africa today has the world’s most progressive Constitution (it was in fact the first country to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation) – but paradoxically, there remains a culture of deep hostility toward sexual minorities and victims of sex crimes. Many of the filmmakers in the room say their goal is less about passing favorable legislation, since they already have that on their side.”

The training covered a variety of issues and techniques, such as:

  • The legal frameworks for gender-based violence in a South African and an international context;
  • Conducting safe and ethical on-camera interviews;
  • Learning how to film interviews using a cellphone;
  • And story development and storytelling tips.

Specific topics included the treatment and rights of individuals in South Africa; the use of “corrective rape,” a disturbing phenomenon where LGBTQ individuals are raped in an attempt to “turn them straight;” the use of rape against older women who are believed to be “witches;” child marriage; and the frequent instances of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls in communities where people must travel far distances to access basic sanitation.

Participants included representatives from STEPS, an organization working on documenting stories of HIV and AIDS; SONKE, an organization focusing on male survivors of gender-based violence; StreetTalk TV, a community television and documentary production group; and participants from Equal Education, LiveSA and BigFish Film School.

WITNESS is excited to see how the participants share lessons learned in the training within their networks.

For example, Big Fish School’s Buhle Ndamese will be using the the training and its resources to train 150 youth activists in November who are part of a government task force to reduce violence amongst youth in Port Elizabeth, Umtata and East London (Eastern Cape Province).

“I am fortunate to have this type of training,” reflected trainee Banele Poni from Equal Education. “It opened my mind and eyes and I can see that we need to change many things in the films we are making on sexual violence as part of our campaign on gender-based violence.”

For more information on our work on gender-based violence, visit gbv.witness.org.

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