The July/August edition of The Big Issue is a none-too-subtle call to arms to fight sexism and gender inequality and put a stop to rape and violence against South African women.
“Considering the events of this year so far, we had no hesitation in producing this heavy hitting Women’s Month edition which calls on all South Africans — men and women — to change the current status quo,” says Melany Bendix, editor.
The edition kicks-off with an in-depth look at how children are gender stereotyped from the cradle, with experts giving insight into how this puts girls at a disadvantage on the playground and later on in life.
“You only have to walk into a toy store to see how apparent this is,” adds Bendix. “All the pink girls toys are designed to see women fulfilling the role of the homemaker, while the boys get science experiments, robotics and all sorts of other toys designed to help them learn more and, later on, earn more.”
Staying with children, a special report then focuses on the worrying trend of “sugar daddy teachers” — men who bestow gifts and money upon their female students in exchange for sex. The report shows that the trend is not limited to impoverished schools, nor is the issue as clear cut as it may seem.
Rape is also widely addressed in the special edition, beginning with an interview with Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler, who speaks about her time in the Democratic Republic of Congo — dubbed the world’s “rape capital”.
The Big Issue then challenged a range of experts, academics, activists and politicians, including Agang leader Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Rape Crisis director Kathleen Dey, to outline how they would solve SA’s rape crisis if they ruled the country.
Feminist writer and researcher Jen Thorpe also tackles rape when she probes whether violence against women in South Africa is a “new scourge” or if that label is the result of media hype.
The Agent of Change for this special edition is Maryam Jacobs, who broke a life-long cycle of abuse to become a beacon of support for other survivors of domestic violence.
The edition wraps up with a look at South Africa from a women’s point of view.
“Five young female South African photographers were chosen to take part in the international Point of View five-year project. Each of the photographers presented a series of images representing their view of a place or community in South Africa, and we’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek of their work before the project moves on to South America,” explains Bendix.
The Women’s Month edition is on sale from Big Issue vendors in and around Cape Town from July 25. Support vendors and get a thought-provoking read while also doing a good deed. For more information, visit www.bigissue.org.za