Actress and women’s rights activist Ayanda Borotho is the lead actress in a TV campaign aimed at raising funds to fight gender-based violence.
The trailer, found on DStv BoxOffice, is a GBV-focused campaign titled Every Day Is Halloween For Women - piggybacking on Halloween season abroad, to express the dire conditions that women find themselves in daily in South Africa.
According to the South African Police Service Annual Crime Statistics Presentation, April 2019 – March 2020, approximately 2 695 women are murdered in a year, and every three hours a woman is killed. These are not titles for a blockbuster horror movie – they are gender-based violence (GBV) statistics in South Africa.
It is also said that femicide is five times higher in Mzansi than the global average, according to the World Health Organization (2016), painting a grim picture of this fact.
Instead of finding a horror film, the audience is confronted with the harrowing statistics that tally the brutal killings of women, concluding with the campaign message that every day is Halloween for women.
Speaking to the actress, she said this project is another one close to her heart as someone who has been speaking about woman-centered issues.
“I have always spoken out publicly and advocated on GBV, issues around social ills, around gender inequality, and the basis of toxic patriarchy and toxic masculinity.
“So for me, it was a no-brainer (to be a part of this campaign). Anything that can lend my voice to the eradication of GBV, to the empowerment and liberation of women, I'm really just happy to do that because that's in line with my calling, my purpose, and my mission. So that's why I decided to do it,” she said.
According to Borotho, the trailer also aims to evoke an emotional fear so that people understand what it's like to be a woman in South Africa every day.
“So the concept is actually #EverydayIsHalloweenforWomen, meaning that every day is a horror film for women because of what millions of women in this country have to go through and live in fear every day of the invisible monster. I say invisible because it could be anybody really, somebody that you trusted in a relationship, it could be a parent - a father or uncle that you trusted with your life or a neighbour, a friend or colleague at work. So it's to drive that message of fear compounded by the fact that danger is always lurking and you just never know where it could come from,” she said.
The campaign proceeds will go to the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation (UMF) as their partner with DSTV and BOX Office. The foundation was launched in honour of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana who was brutally raped and murdered in 2019 at the Clareinch Post Office where she had gone to collect a parcel.
Borotho believes that the trailer is a continuation of the bigger conversation against GBV and finding solutions to it.
“When the Nosicelo Mtebeni story broke, I felt so hopeless because I thought if there is so much noise about GBV, with so many hashtag movements, the global movements and the noises intensified over the last five years, and because we have the world at the tip of our fingers, you know, we're exposed to even more messaging. Why do we still have men who feel they can kill as he did but also go as far as to slice her up. This project came at that time of hopelessness for me.
“But I also did not want to stop talking about this scourge. It is necessary because I don't want to use it as an isolated incident that gauges whether the message is getting out or not. I don't think it's possible to do that because the world is so big, society is so large.
“My feeling about this is that we have to continue to keep drumming the message because that paradigm shift only happens when we are consistent with the messaging. And that has been my cry, even to corporates, that let us not just see a 16 days of activism campaign - and don’t do it as a campaign, but let it be a lifestyle. Let it be an ongoing message and let us be practical on how we are creating the solutions. My frustration is that we throw money and campaigns at the symptoms of GBV but we don't really talk about the root of toxic masculinity and patriarchy, which is the real root of the violence against women that we see.
“So this campaign, I suppose, is a continuation of this ongoing fight. Using the medium of film or television to tell or to approach this message is also a powerful thing. There is a difference in when you are preaching to people but think when people get to feel an experience, somebody’s experience and walk in their shoes, it has a different impact,” she said.
The Every Day is Halloween For Women trailer is available on BoxOffice from 31 October 2021. Donations can be made on BoxOffice when a customer selects Every Day is Halloween For Women content and clicks on the Rent Now button and follows the steps to make payment. All proceeds go to the UMF with DStv BoxOffice matching donations from the public.