Radio drama breaks silence on violence and HIV/AIDS
Hitting the airwaves just in time for 16 Days of Activism and World AIDS
Day, Mahlabathe Speaks is a 13-part serial radio drama highlighting how
HIV/AIDS and Gender Based Violence (GBV) are linked, in a way that is
entertaining and understandable to the mostly rural target audiences. The
drama is being aired across South Africa, with listening groups in four
provinces - Eastern Cape; Northern Cape; KwaZulu-Natal; and Free State
though the drama is free to air to any station.
Produced by CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions, for People
Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) Mahlabathe Speaks uses edutainment to talk about
the importance of eliminating gender based violence and the spread of HIV.
The drama follows the story of Lerato, a young woman who is scared and
running. A city girl through and through, she finds herself in the middle of
a rural village confronting new situations and ideas.
While at first she just wants to finish her work and go home, she finds
herself remembering and celebrating her culture, and falling for the local
community radio station presenter. But what is she running from? Her
newfound friends Ntom'entle and Busisiwe have their own problems. Living
with HIV, Ntom'entle's disclosure results in violence from her husband and
family, while Busisiwe finds her voice to speak out on what she thinks is
Drama promotes dialogue
In South Africa violence against women has reached epidemic proportions, one
of the highest rates in the world of countries collecting such data. It
exists in millions of households, in every community, in every institution,
in both public and private spaces.
"Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cuts across race, class, ethnicity,
religion and geographic location," says Nonhlanhla Sibanda of POWA. "This
radio drama, supported by listening groups, community-based activities, and
media engagement, is being produced to encourage a deeper awareness and
understanding of the intersections between GBV and HIV, get people talking,
and encourage people to change their attitudes and actions."
The drama package also includes a guide for radio presenters to help them
create stories and reports around the issues, host discussions, ask
questions, and present accurate facts. As part of 16 days of activism
activities, community radio stations will be broadcasting the drama, as well
as inviting guests and listeners to discuss the rights issues it raises.
According to Cindy Dzanya, project coordinator from CMFD Productions, "The
drama is entertaining and easy to comprehend, local languages were used to
ensure the message reaches audiences in each of the target provinces."
Silence erodes protections
However, South Africa has solid legal protections for women, at least on
paper. This includes both national legislation and being signatory to
international and regional commitments protecting women's rights. South
Africa was one of the first to sign the 2003 African Union (AU) Protocol on
Women's Rights, a continent-wide legal framework that came into force in
2005, which commits all signatories to protecting a whole range of women's
rights - including reproductive health, property and inheritance rights, and
freedom from gender violence, to name just a few.
However, like in most of Africa, the reality on the ground is much
different. Along with high rates of domestic and sexual violence, women also
experience higher rates of HIV and AIDS; culture and society continue to
undermine women's progress; and gender inequalities affect everyday life and
opportunities. Asked following the voicing of the drama whether it reflect
real issues and problems in South Africa, one actor responded "Yes it does
because it's relevant and its issues that people go through every day. It's
mostly things that people are afraid to talk about."
Raising Women's Voices
There are problems with availability and access to services, of poor
implementation, and of traditions of inequality that are hard to break.
However, even in this era of multi-media overload, Facebook, Twitter, and
the internet, there still is a lack of awareness and dialogue about women's
rights, and where to go for help. The drama's core theme is about speaking
out, and talking about issues of gender violence and HIV, to come up with
solution and ideas for prevention and care.
At the heart of the drama is encouraging especially women to speak out. The
drama's original theme music, produced by Daniel Walter for Sigauque
Project, is also a call to women and girls to speak out. As the Mahlabathe
Speaks tag line says, when women's voices are raised, things will never be
the same again
For more information about the drama and to listen to music and trailers
visit www.cmfd.org, for more information about POWA's 16 Days of Activism
CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions
PO Box 66193
Broadway 2020, JHB
+27 (0)73 132 7032
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