The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) seeks to empower and enhance the protection and resilience of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Southern Africa during the COVID-19 crisis, through the StandwitHER project. Among the objectives of the project is to support the online publication of WHRDs testimonies during and post COVID-19 as a means of increasing the public recognition and evidence impact of their work.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual global campaign that begins on 25 November and ends on the International Human Rights Day, on 10 December. The campaign’s objective is to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
The year 2020 has seen an alarming increase in the cases of violence against women, due to the lockdown measures imposed by many governments around the world in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women found themselves facing a pandemic within a pandemic; they have lived with the pandemic of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) for centuries and which has been worsening over the years.
Whilst governments imposed strict lockdown regulations, resources have been diverted to deal with COVID-19, at the expense of essential services such as emergency services for SGBV victims/survivors, sexual reproductive health services, access to justice and shelters.
Amidst all this, there has been a restriction on civil and political rights, including the rights of freedoms of expression, association and assembly, with human rights defenders being arrested on charges of breaching COVID-19 health regulations, among others. WHRDs were not spared from government interference, intimidation and harassment; they too were arrested, with some being subjected to gender-specific violations such as sexual assault as a form of torture.
During the 16 Days, the SAHRDN seeks to launch the publication of testimonies of WHRDs within the region, with a testimony being published on each day as from 25 November to 10 December. Subsequently, the testimonies will be published monthly in recognition of the work that WHRDs do amid the threats, risks and violations they face.
While WHRDs will be requested to share their stories of pain, suffering, struggles, tears and triumph in written form or recording (audio and video), and to also send their pictures, they will not be obligated to reveal their identities if they do not wish to do so. In respecting the “do no harm” principle, we shall use pseudonyms and avatars for those WHRDs who will request their identities to be hidden
- Increasing the public recognition and evidence impact of the work of WHRDs in the region
- Conducting evidence-based advocacy on SGBV risks, threats, and violations faced by WHRDs
- Enhancing regional solidarity and support to WHR
We, therefore, request your assistance with the following:
- If you are a WHRD, please share your story in written, audio, or video format. Audio and video recordings should not be more than 10 minutes
- WHRDs are encouraged to share their names and pictures, but if not comfortable with revealing their identity, you can use a pseudonym and indicate it to us.
- If you are not a WHRD, kindly share the invitation with women, who you think should have their stories told, or who would benefit from being published
- The testimonials can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp or Signal to +27 71 843 8887 or +27 78125 1062.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information.
Together, we defend