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Conceptualising harassment as a Women’s Rights concern

Ladies, ever walked down the street and came across a group of guys and got the annoying “Hello nice” greeting, or “Hello my size” or any other greeting that made you feel uncomfortable, humiliated, annoyed or disrespected?

Worst of all, upon ignoring being addressed in such a manner, these guys go on to hurl insults at you, from slut shaming to saying things like “Hhayi phela angikuncengile, umumbi vele. Bengithi ngiyakuzama”? Which loosely translates to “ Whatever, I wasn’t begging you ( to answer), you’re ugly anyway. I was merely just making you feel special”.

This is probably a reality (or even a fear) for many black women. And whether you believe it or not, this qualifies as harassment! Harassment comes in many forms and many of those forms are usually deducted as trivial.

“Let My No Be Heard” is a campaign which purposefully launched on the 25th of November 2016, to coincide with the momentum of the global 16 Days of Activism against abuse and gender based violence. When this movement launched, Simphiwe Lukhele, Tiyandza Dlamini, Mongi Nkhosi and Mfundo Nsibande, who are the founders of this campaign, had thoroughly scrutinized the extent at which most anti-abuse movements barely reflected on street harassment as an exclusive form of female abuse.

Based in Swaziland, LMNBH, strongly believes that there cannot be comforts while others are oppressed. “As most of our founding team members consist of artistically passionate youths, we decided to channel our Protestantism into art. Art having the potential of immense attractiveness and Protestantism having the potential of challenging thinking, there was no way we could not follow through”, they say.

On the final day of 16DaysOfActivism 2016, they delivered poetic hooks towards sexist traditions, on the velvety decorated stage of a local gospel concert.

As young activists, they began understanding the relations between art and human development. Their campaign desperately needed something that would almost immediately distinguish their protests from the rest. They decided to further infuse their philosophy into fashion, sketches and even more poetry. This is when they established their official logo which was the ever popular phrase “Voetsek”. The determined activists said that while others (especially men) perceived the logo as barbaric or irrational, they smiled with content knowing that they were now effortlessly parading something very effective in order to advance the street harassment debate.

Months later, LMNBH adopted Darwin’s “adapt or die” theory by eventually amending their principles of being confined to anti-street harassment, to embracing the broader context of feminist philosophy. i.e. rape culture, economic deprivation, social subjugation.

As Feminists we reiterate that in every society where there is a level of comfort towards rape and rape culture, it should immediately beg the question of whether or not our cultures, morals and values do not actually embrace or entrench such prejudices. 

Collectively they have worked on quite a few campaigns and are currently working with a young lady who, at the age of 16, tragically lost her parents and was forced to leave school to marry a man who is 3 times her age, in order to bear children for him.

LMNBH is determined to grow and hopes to receive support from government and society, in order to protect those facing injustice. They went on to say how, as feminists, they feel extremely insulted that women’s issues are now limited to being discussed on calendar specific dates and it is their duty to change that.

You can follow the discussion on #LMNHB on Twitter, or follow their account: @LetMyNoBeHeard

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