Exposing and Demonstrating GBV through art

By Rosalia David

SINCE the dawn of human civilisation, mankind has been using art to portray their environment and way of life. In more recent times, activists and human rights defenders have used art to break taboos, address inequalities, send political messages and raise awareness of social issues.

At a time when Namibia has seen a stark increase in the number of gender-based violence cases, the wider society, including corporates, civil society, government and politicians must act as it is indeed a priority to reach out to many sections of society in all sorts of creative ways to get the message through.

Artist Domingo Rupare has done his part through a painting titled ‘Treat Her Like a Queen’ which he is exhibiting at The National Art Gallery to demonstrate the pain victims of GBV go through on a daily basis.

The painting portrays a helpless distressed woman attempting to remove a dark hand covering her mouth with the intention to silence her by force.

Through his painting, he further emphasises the emotions of fear in her eyes and face that make it abundantly clear at first glance that she is in danger, but the perpetrator dares her to speak out.  Rupare’s painting was a relatively simple picture that speaks volumes and easy to recognize. He removed any form of justification for violence by inscribing lines such as “Rape is a crime not a mistake”, challenging a society that more often than not tends to blame the victim rather than protect them.

The system was after all shaped through centuries of silencing women and carving out a patriarchal system that reinforces male privilege over women’s rights. The words “Man up, no means no” sends out the unambiguous message that real men don’t use their power or strength to just take what they want. Women have the right to say no.