Rise up. Raise your voice. We’re fighting to end gender-based violence

Rise up. Raise your voice. We’re fighting to end gender-based violence

Three Lives connected by their efforts against gender based violence

Three lives

South Africa is experiencing a ferocious epidemic. But it’s not an airborne disease scourging communities. This threat walks among us. It’s a friend, co-worker, family member or partner, and it claims the lives of up to six women every day. Standing up to gender-based violence, Lucinda Evans, Sonny Pillay, and Kilmany-Jo Liversage are fighting for women’s justice. 

Lucinda Evans is no stranger to violence. Living in Lavender Hill, gangsterism, crime, and domestic abuse were her next-door neighbours. But one day, after seeing a man kicking his girlfriend, Evans made a decision that would change everything. "I had to do something," she says. Unwilling to be a bystander, she stood up to the attacker and vowed to protect others at all costs. Today, Evans runs Philisa Abafazi Bethu, providing a 24-hour emergency safe house and programmes for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. With her NPO now rooted firmly in her community, Evans ensures that everyone who walks through her door leaves with the courage to reclaim power over their lives.

When it comes to combating femicide, Sonny Pillay is a master. An eighth dan in karate and the founder of the Shotokan Karate-do International South Africa, Pillay has spent most of his life practising the martial art. But now he’s focusing his attention on something more urgent. “It is our bounden duty as men to address the issue of women abuse,” Pillay says. Hosting free self-defence classes for women’s groups, he equips them with the confidence and tactics to fight back in times of danger. “It is a skill that can save a life,” he says. Making the sport accessible to those who need it, Pillay empowers his students to stand their ground. 

Art was a natural part of life for Kilmany-Jo Liversage, but so was living in fear. With South Africa’s femicide rate five times higher than the global average, she couldn't turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering experienced in her country. “I knew that art could be used to speak on women’s issues,” Liversage says. So she picked up her palette and spray can and began amplifying their voices. Creating large-scale graffiti portraits of women in public spaces, Liversage honours victims of gender-based violence. Bringing their stories to the forefront, her striking artworks beckon society to listen and enact change. 

Fighting gender-based violence with spray paint, shelter, and self-defence classes, Evans, Pillay, and Liversage have laid the foundations for a safe and just society. “We all have the capacity to make a difference,” Liversage says. Enough is enough. It’s time to break the silence and end the war against women.

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