In Her Own Image With Tremaine Barnes
If we have learnt anything from phenomenal women such as Ma Winnie Madikizela – Mandela it is that we have the power to stand up and demand change. Over the past century, there have been tons of amazing women who have dedicated their lives to supporting certain causes through protests, social activism, or online campaigns. They have demonstrated that women make a difference, not just in a small manner but in an important and critical one.
The Solomon Star took to a Q and A with local activist Tremaine Barnes.
So, Tremaine, what’s your story? Tell us about yourself?
My name is Tremaine Barnes. I am part of an organisation called Women To Women which focuses on women’s empowerment, I’m also an activist against the rape and sexual abuse of women and children.
What made you decide to become a human rights activist?
I was an intern at Karl Bremer Hospital, where I did the weekly rape statistics, that’s when I first realised just how many women and children are raped and sexually abused every day. On one particular day there was a story about a school taxi driver who had been sexually abusing a learner for 3 years. I couldn’t take it anymore and felt that simply sharing the stories wasn’t enough so I vowed and committed myself to speak out against rape and sexual abuse at every chance I get.
Tell us about your biggest activism campaign. What was the driving force behind it?
The Barefoot Campaign is aimed at creating rape awareness and showing support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. We literally walk barefoot to show that even though walking barefoot can be uncomfortable or even painful at times, there is absolutely nothing that can compare to the physical, psychological, mental and emotional suffering survivors of rape and sexual abuse experience. Not only acknowledging survivors pain, but acknowledging survivors’ strength as well as reminding survivors that they actually have survived something that had the potential of destroying them. We want to emphasise the fact that rape and sexual abuse does not define you. You are strong, beautiful, worthy of love and the best life has to offer regardless of what has been done to you. Even though rape and sexual abuse is unfortunately so common in our communities there is very little to no support for survivors. There is still a lot of victim blaming, affected families still feel ashamed at times and The South African Justice System is very hard on survivors seeking justice because of the secondary victimization that is still prevalent. Rape and sexual abuse is happening in our communities, in our homes and that is why it is so important to create awareness, educate our communities as to what it is, how to deal with it and to encourage them to stand up and speak out because there are still many families and religious organizations who protect rapists and sexual abusers. We need to make our communities safe for ALL who live in it.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I have been accepted to be a part of The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Programme where activists from across the country come together and are equipped with a toolkit for change in an environment that nurtures social, economic and political forces for community development.
Do you have any interesting projects in the pipeline?
We will be running a “go fund me” campaign to raise funds which we will use to renovate the VEP Rooms in our local Police Stations, we believe that after you’ve been hurt or gone through a traumatic experience, the place you go to get help should be the first point of healing.
How can one get involved?
You can get involved by becoming an active member of the Barefoot Campaign and joining us while we do our awareness campaigns. We will be running an after school programme at Sol Plaatjie University and invite students to join us. For more details you are free to contact me on 0617455670 / email@example.com