Activists against gender-based violence convened on Wednesday in an emotional dialogue.

Emotions peaked at the dialogue on gender-based violence (GBV) by advocacy group Right2Know held on Wednesday, September 18 in Braamfontein.

The women-only event was attended by women who front a number of non-profit organisations in aid of women and children, and representatives from Gauteng’s department of community safety.

Right2Know’s Ntombiyebongo Tshabalala, who organised the event, said the dialogue was initiated “to give our female comrades a space to be able to engage on issues that are affecting them”.

Noma Mbele, who works for Tosunga Baninga – a victim empowerment group which arranges campaigns against GBV – facilitated the dialogue and emphasised the importance of women supporting each other in their efforts to fight “the scourge of GBV”.

“I am angry, disappointed and numb,” the 48-year-old activist said adding, “I just do not know who to direct my anger to.”

Nandipha Gumbi*, an attendee at the event, blamed the government for the continued abuse of women and children.

“What is the state doing? There is no system that works for women and children in this country,” she said.

Gumbi also spoke on the anxiety she felt in light of the highly publicised alleged rape and murder of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana.

“Why us? Is my child safe where he or she is? Am I next?” she asked, echoing the refrain and hashtag #AmINext women have taken up since Mrwetyana’s death.

Two representatives from the Gauteng department of community safety were also in attendance. Kgabo Sekgale, an intern at the department, attended the dialogue on behalf of the director of the department who she said was unavailable.

Sekgale suggested the department instituting “educational programmes and going into the community and teaching people safety tips” could combat the recent spate of GBV.

Many in attendance criticised programmes to end GBV, saying boys and men were being left behind in the efforts to educate people on abuse.

Gumbi accused men of not wanting to defeat patriarchy, the system of society in which men hold disproportionate amount of power in comparison with women, “Men are benefitting from patriarchy, they do not want to be emancipated”.

Tshabalala said the dialogue was only the first in a planned series and wished it lasted longer.

“Our objectives were met but I feel our time was limited. We did not unpack on how we should involve our boy kids and teach them,” she said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Advocacy group Right2Know held a dialogue on gender-based violence in Braamfontein, on Wednesday September 18.