By NYX MCLEAN
The last few weeks have seen us at Grocott’s Mail confronted with some tough and very sensitive topics, namely sexual violence in schools. As we find ourselves at the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, I find that we need to reflect on our commitment to reporting on gender-based violence and violence against children.
I wrote my Masters thesis over ten years ago on rape reporting at Grocott’s Mail, finding that the newspaper did not have the capacity to report effectively on gender-based violence (GBV) and that, at the time, it was not on their news agenda.
When I took up the role as the engagement editor of Grocott’s Mail, I did not want to repeat history and find us unable to do justice to stories on GBV. We have mostly reported on GBV in a features style or thought leadership pieces from experts or through anonymous accounts from survivors of GBV.
Too often, stories on GBV are sensationalised and focus on details that are unnecessary to the case, such as focusing on what survivors were wearing or doing to attract the unwanted attention of their abusers. It rarely addresses the abuser in a way that holds them accountable, let alone places their actions in the greater context of what makes GBV possible.
We do not want to perpetuate these bad habits in reporting on GBV, so what we try to do at Grocott’s Mail is bring you longer reads that focus on unpacking issues, placing them in context, and offering up solutions that are, where possible, localised. These solutions are for the community of Makhanda by the community of Makhanda.
We draw on the knowledge of those working to address GBV, whether they are from SAPS, the Council, healthcare workers, academics, or members of civil society. These people have actual first-hand experience addressing GBV, working with survivors, and, unfortunately, engaging with perpetrators of violence. Through their experiences, we can learn how to address GBV in ways that are effective, meaningful, and sustainable for our community.
Over the next few days, we will be sharing articles relating to 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, as well as continuing the conversation around violence in schools, and advertising any community events taking place during 16 Days of Activism which runs from Thursday 25 November through to Friday 10 December.
We must acknowledge the incredible work of the people and organisations in Makhanda addressing violence. From the school teachers and principals who currently find themselves confronted by the very real presence of sexual violence and abuse in their schools and actively working to address it, to the community leaders gathering to find solutions to this very real community issue, to the healthcare workers who work with survivors day in and day out, and anyone else providing critical support to survivors of GBV and other forms of violence. It is not easy to face the ugly side of humanity and to be there to hold space for those who are trying to piece their lives together. Thank you for the work you do and for the care and safety you provide.
If you are organising any events during 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and would like our support in promoting your event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us on Facebook Messenger.