The Rose has Thorns campaign celebrated its three year anniversary, Jabu D reports.
Freedom Day, the 27th April 2006, The Rose has Thorns Campaign (RHT) celebrated its 3rd year of existence at the Constitution Hill, Women’s Gaol in Gauteng. The Campaign came to public attention in 2003 on this special day when during the anti-war campaign. “The Rose has Thorns” is the name of an anti-hate crimes campaign being mounted by Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW). The campaign is strongly against any form of abuse, particularly against hate crimes against lesbians. It was time for celebration and reflection, to see how far the campaign has come and achieved.
Yanda Tolobisa from Wits Activate said that the campaign is doing a great job at documenting hate crime incidents, bringing them to the public awareness. However, on the legal stuff, it is a slow process this might be because of the lack of interest from the government’s side. Stressing the point of working together with other organisations. She also pointed out the need for people participation, “people have a tendency to think” that the campaign belongs to the organizers, but it really “belongs to the community as a whole”.
Donna Smith, FEW, CEO is delighted by the fact that the campaign have been able to live this long. “I am excited we have lasted this long”. This further demonstrates that we have the ability to mobilize around abuse issues. “I am also please to see a lot of survivors”, she lamented.
Carrie Shelver from POWA said it is a relief knowing that people who have been abused know that there is a place tto when they need help. She is also excited that the campaign has been able to last for the period of three years. Pointing out that there is a necessity for the campaign to form coalition with other organizations, dealing with the same issues. Because this will surely strengthen the power to fight abuse. As much as all looks so good so far, Carrie says the campaign needs to move beyond tackling the “political and legal contexts”.
There is a need to educate people so that their perception can be changed, which will translate into tolerance and understanding. Research and analysis should be conducted, this will add to knowledge and offers insight as to what needs to be done and how. She added that RHT has increased awareness but it still needs to work on the strategies.
Yanda sadly pointed out that the mainstream media has a role to play in addressing the issue of abuse. It is sad that media reports portray abuse as a funny thing. Their reports bring “shame to the victim rather than awareness”. The Rose has Thorns has not done enough to sensationalise about the seriousness of these issues”.
Phila Mawetsa from Mohlakeng township (a home for the young woman survivor of hate attack at Jo’burg Pride in 2005), said the campaign has not reach some places, especially the townships. There are people who know nothing about this campaign. As a result many people suffer in silence (alienated) not knowing where to go.