“WithoutUs” campaign at Sacred Heart College
On 11 September, the male students of Sacred Heart College stood in solidarity with the female students – who had stayed away from school – in support of the #WithoutUs movement.
The boys decided they would attend school and hold a silent protest outside the school at 7:30, 12:30 and then again at 14:00. Throughout the day, the boys engaged in a series of workshops around gender-based violence and how to become better young men, by learning about their actions, words and mannerisms. The day ended with the boys making pledges about actions they could change and how they could make a difference within the school and society as a whole.
Quotes from the learners:
Tariro Banganayi, high school President – “It was a very good first attempt; it obviously wasn’t perfect, and I think the idea behind starting conversations with the school about the way they talk [to] and about the way they treat other people [girls] is important. As much as we say we must challenge the harmful ways that the boys engage with the opposite sex, I don’t think we’ve ever done it in as much depth as we did on that day. It is kind of sad that the girls had to be absent when all of that happened, but I feel like next time it’s also important to have the girls because it’s such a male dominated space, with male perspectives on everything. It’s very easy for boys to make excuses for themselves and their friends because of the support of their friends. I think it’s very important that next time we have this dialogue, which should be soon, we involve the girls and give them an active role in expressing how they feel and including their voices in that conversation.”
Zanzi Matsebula, high school President – “I think it raised a lot of awareness in this school because a lot of people didn’t know, maybe they knew but didn’t understand what was happening [with gender-based violence]. I think having the protest and the march helped them understand, not to the greatest extent, what’s happening within our community but at the same time I feel like there are still some people who don’t know. Some people are being ignorant, and they just use that opportunity to have fun and to get out of class. There are a lot of people that I know that do not take all the terrible things that are happening to women seriously and they often tend to say “but no, women are trash too” and “women do this too,” and they don’t understand what exactly the movements are about and why the movements were started in the first place. But overall I think it was a good movement, a good march, a good start.”
Thato Kekana, Deputy President – “The day without the girls at school made some people realize that they need to change their actions; they need to change themselves and they need to hold each other accountable. Hopefully that’s the effect that it [#WithoutUs] has.”