#ForOurWomen – Gender Based Violence = Photobook

‘Show me a man, not born of woman.’

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the general term used to refer to violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between the genders, within the context of a specific society.

By Alex Gwaze, Social Documentarian

DOWNLOAD: #ForOurWomen [GBV Dedications]


GBV can be enacted under many different manifestations, from its most widespread form, intimate partner violence, to acts of violence carried out in online spaces. These different forms are not mutually exclusive and multiple incidences of violence can be happening at once and reinforcing each other. While women, girls, men and boys can be victims of GBV, the main focus of this photobook is – violence against women and girls.

#FOROURWOMEN is a self funded pictorial protest captured between the 6th and 7th of December, 2018, in the spirit of the 16 Days campaign. The project was a voluntary collaborative photographic protest dedicated to survivors of GBV. It fused elements of Photojournalism, Fashion and Textile, Experimental / Conceptual Art, Fashion Photography, Journalism, Poetry, and Protest Art. 15 models participated in the campaign and their photographs were captured using available natural light on location in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in a two day period – each model / ‘Ghost Warrior’ was designated 20 minutes per shoot.

The photographic process was divided into two parts; the ‘Pink Portraits’ and the ‘Experiential Dedications’. The ‘Pink Portraits’ re-interpret the experience of reporting a crime to law-enforcement. The natural-dishevelled-’naked’ mugshots do not hide flaws or scars – but are draped with traces of violence and depict the fighting African spirit. However, the ‘Experiential Dedications’ were shot on location to document the most common ‘scenes of the crime.’ In each scene, the models ‘haunted’ the location in an ‘African Phoenix’ dress made from rags and torn dresses. The ‘haggard’ dress represents all women who have experienced GBV, and acts as evidence or a ‘ghostly’ reminder of a painful past that no longer fits into the future. Consequently, this one dress was worn by all the models in the ‘Dedications’.

Altogether, the photobook curates reported stories / cases of GBV, protest images, poems and commentary on “BEING A WOMAN” – and does not attempt to re-enact scenes of GBV in graphic detail, but instead celebrates the named / nameless survivors / victims of GBV whose stories, testimonials, and accounts added the essential ‘emotional colour’ that personified the black and white text on police reports and newspaper articles.

Poetic excerpt from #FOROURWOMEN : 16 by Zie Nyathi (Poet)

Born under the curse of Eve,
It was already decided,
This would be man’s world,
I, woman, would never be good enough.
I, woman, would never be strong enough.
I would never be entrusted with power,
I would never choose my own destiny,
As written, it shall be taught.
I will submit to my husband,
If I don’t, he can claim me anyhow.
Stale traditions have forever crowned man god!
Like Mary, without choice,
I will conceive to please God.
I’m doomed to the feet of god.
If I dare dream of conquering the world,
It’s not my qualifications demanded on display.
Show me your skin, ass, breasts, legs.
They demand I splay!
It’s a man’s world after all,
And boys will be boys, the confederates will say.
In all this,
Through it all,
I say.
I’m still a woman, a warrior.
Every single day of my life.
I’m not 16.

Download the full Photobook: #ForOurWomen [GBV Dedications]

Additional information:

– Yale economists studied sanitation and security specifically in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa, and estimated that walking to the toilet is linked to 635 sexual assaults every year.

-57% of women will not use public facilities because the caretaker is male according to research conducted by Water-Fund.

– Amnesty International reports that one woman is killed by her husband or boyfriend every six hours. In Zimbabwe, six out of 10 murder cases were related to domestic violence, and 47% of all homicides in Kenya are a result of domestic violence.

– In South Africa, 1 in every 3 children are sexually abused before the age of 16 and the rate of sexual abuse of boys exceeds that of girls. 36.8% of boys and 33.9% of girls reported some form of sexual abuse, according to the Optimus Study by the University of Cape Town, and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention. 60% of the children who reported the crime were abused by someone in their social circle.

– A recent study found over 20 percent of all women (1 in 5 women) experienced unwanted sexual contact while attending college; most likely an attacker will be a friend or acquaintance.

– In Zimbabwe at least 22 women are raped daily, translating to almost one woman being sexually abused every hour, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (ZimStat). In the United Kingdom, the police-recorded crime figures show a 14% increase in the number of sexual offences reported. In South Africa, 150 women report being raped to the police daily. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted, and no more than 10 will result in a conviction.

– In Egypt 35% of women are subjected to physical or sexual violence from their husbands. In fact, between 10 and 14 % of married women will be raped at some point during their marriages according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

– According to the Bureau for Justice Statistics, white households outperform the amount of reported and unreported domestic violence, accounting for 74% of all expected cases in the United States. The most common offender is often a white male between the age of 25-54.

Cited Sources:

Cate Cauguiran (2018) Woman found dead in bathtub with hands, feet bound in Gresham ID’d. Available at: https://abc7chicago.com/woman-found-dead-tied-up-in-bathtub-in-gresham-idd/3892357/

Rumbi Chakamba (2016) The Push to Get Every African Country to Criminalize Marital Rape. Available at: https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/articles/2016/10/21/push-get-every-african-country-criminalize-marital-ra

Tinomuda Chakanyuka (2017) One rape per hour: ZimStat. Available at: https://www.sundaynews.co.zw/one-rape-per-hour-zimstat/

Child Abuse Prevention (n.d) Available at: https://www.childhelp.org/story-resource-center/child-abuse-prevention/

Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa (2018) Available at:https://www.jellybeanz.org.za/child-sexual-abuse-south-africa/

Luc Christiaensen (2016) Domestic Violence and Poverty in Africa: When the Husband’s Beating Stick is Like Butter. Available at: http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/domestic-violence-and-poverty-in-africa-when-the-husbands-beating-stick-is-like-butter

Andrea A. Curcio (2016) What schools don’t tell you about campus sexual assault. Available at: https://theconversation.com/what-schools-dont-tell-you-about-campus-sexual-assault-57163

Jane Dalton (2019) Woman attacked in public toilet dies after man arrested for attempted murder. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/toilet-attack-arrest-police-woman-plymouth-yelverton-devon-dartmoor-head-died-a8749446.htm

Nada Deyaa (2018) Not By Force: online campaign combating marital rape. Available at: https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/28/not-by-force-online-campaign-combating-marital-rape/

Brandon Gaille (2017) 21 Surprising Unreported Domestic Violence Statistics. Available at: https://brandongaille.com/19-surprising-unreported-domestic-violence-statistics/  

Jon Gambrell (2011) Nigeria stunned by woman’s gang rape. Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/nigeria-stunned-by-womans-gang-rape-1142487

16 Days of Actvism: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism

Gender based violence definition: http://www.health-genderviolence.org/training-programme-for-health-care-providers/facts-on-gbv/defining-gender-based-violence/21

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