8 August 2014

South Africa: Walking Against Women and Child Abuse

South African film director Meg Rickards commissioned a make-up artist to make it look like she had been badly beaten - then walked the streets of Cape Town early on Friday morning wearing little more than a petticoat.

Why? August marks national Women's Month in South Africa, and Rickards says her aim is to raise awareness around women and child abuse - as well as funds for her upcoming film, Whiplash.

Rickards said in a statement that the film challenges "the ever-present culture of abuse and violence in South Africa" but is ultimately "a story of redemption".

Whiplash, which is based on a novel of the same name by Cape Town author Tracey Farren, tells the story of a prostitute, Tess. "Whiplash is a brave story that can have a significant impact on popular cultural attitudes towards sexual violence," Rickards said.


Rickards walked 26 kilometres, from Cape Town's City Hall to Muizenberg, and was accompanied some of the way by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, the former deputy minister of health, as well as members of NGOs and other supporters.

As she walked, passersby shouted comments that ranged from, "Nice legs, baby," to being stopped and hugged by a woman who said, "You look like me before I left my husband".

"As a woman, mother and filmmaker I feel compelled to act against one of the most devastating plagues in our society using the tools at my disposal - the story and the camera. By bringing Whiplash to the screen, we hope to make a contribution to changing hearts and minds through the power of narrative, and to challenge the culture of impunity around rape," says Rickards.


While the project has already received support from the National Film and Video Foundation and the Department of Trade and Industry, an additional R1-million is needed before production can commence.

Producer Jacky Lourens says, "The aim of our appeal is to solicit donations from a large number of people. Donations start at R100 and everyone who backs the project will get something in return. The rewards are designed to draw people into the filmmaking process - to visit the set, watch the rough cut, and even be in the movie."

Orgainsers of the walk said 10% of all funds raised on Friday and Women's Day will be donated to the Saartjie Baartman Centre, a refuge for women and children who are survivors of abuse.

If you are interested in making a contribution, go to www.thundafund.com/whiplash.

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