Gender Action Project Statement on Xenophobia/Afrophobia

As an activist group concerned with the promotion of equality and freedom, the Gender Action Project strongly condemns the recent spates of violence committed against foreign nationals in South Africa on the basis of their nationality.

We acknowledge that these attacks have not occurred out of nowhere, but in the context of a country experiencing extreme economic inequality and unemployment. This specific wave of violence was preceded by extremely xenophobic comments made by King Goodwill Zwelithini.

We urge all of our members – and the Rhodes University community, generally – to show solidarity with the victims of these attacks. We can do this by staying informed about the attacks, challenging the casual xenophobic attitudes of our peers, and holding Zwelithini and other leaders accountable for their inflammatory comments.

As we are a society concerned about mental health, we gently encourage members of the Rhodes University community to avoid posting explicit photographs online. These include photographs that explicitly show physical violence and mutilated, lifeless or gratuitously injured bodies. Sharing these pictures – especially without contextualizing them or obtaining the permission of the involved victims or their families – can be incredibly disrespectful. The pictures can also re-traumatize those who have experienced xenophobia. South Africa is an unsafe space for many of our African siblings from other countries, as is: we do not need to aggravate the situation by making them feel more afraid and unsafe or being insensitive toward their psychological state. It is entirely possible to show solidarity with people without traumatizing them, and it is entirely possible to empathize with people without seeing photographs of their brutalized bodies.

We can also make a positive tangible difference by supporting our SRC’s donation drive. They are currently looking for donations of:

– Blankets
– Bedding
– Toiletries (e.g. soap, facecloths, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste)
– Sanitary wear
– Non-perishable food items (e.g. canned food, dry rice/pasta, soup packets, bottled water)
– Monetary donations are also welcome.

These items will be donated to Gift of the Givers, a leading, well-reputed charity which has been at the forefront of caring for victims of xenophobia. If you would like to, you can also donate money directly to Gift of the Givers (http://giftofthegivers.org/).
We especially encourage members to donate sanitary wear as it is often overlooked by most donors. Because of the stigma surrounding menstruation, it is often difficult for people in crisis situations to ask for sanitary wear.

If you are able to do so, please drop off these donations at the SRC offices in the Steve Biko Student Union Building by Thursday 23rd April. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you are aware of any other donation drives in the Grahamstown area, please let us know so that we can share this information.

Once again, our thoughts are with those who are affected by this senseless violence.

The Gender Action Project Committee 2015

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