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#RedMyLips: Anti–rape campaign aims to end victim blaming

The global campaign against sexual violence begins tomorrow.

Picture: freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have been encouraged to support an international campaign to mark the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, by wearing red lipstick every day until the 30th.

The #RedMyLips campaign, which has had a global reach since 2011, is aimed at sparking conversation about the plight of sexual violence against women while showing solidarity with those who are survivors of rape.

The hastags #RedMyLips and #OkToShare are already gaining momentum with men joining in the exchange.

@drtlaleng #RedMyLips2016 #Ok2Share pic.twitter.com/xn9CxL3Rfv

Dischem Northgate had a conversation about ending victim blaming. Womandla ✊ @refeletse #ok2share #RedMyLips2016 💄👄 pic.twitter.com/GuaaZdrNH6

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, a member of the Sexual Reproductive Rights & Justice Coalition, has spearheaded this year's movement in SA using social media to challenge some of the behaviours and ideas that perpetuate rape culture and, in particular, victim blaming.

Red My Lips time again - April 2016 as we speak out against Rape, Rape Culture including victim blaming 💋💄 pic.twitter.com/OvnWe4IJ6Z

When you post anything related to #RedMyLips campaign use the # ok2share to consent to your post being shared pic.twitter.com/ULbqCCPSRn

She explains that the use of red lipstick is a counter-response to the common myth that sexual violence is provoked by attraction or desire.

"Women are still seen to be the ones who are seducing men into awkward positions where men cannot help but violate women because they are turned on; because it's the women who seduce men even with the way we dress. Women are still being blamed for the violence that they endure at the hands of men."

In context of victim blaming and rape culture, Mofokeng says the purpose of wearing red lipstick every day is to fuel conversations on the matter while breaking away from the beliefs that women are somehow responsible for their victimisation and relieving the perpetrator from responsibility.

"Every time you wear red lips, people are going to ask you, why you are suddenly wearing red lipstick every day and that is a conversation starter. And then you as the individual take the responsibility and take a stand and you pledge to have the conversation."

Speaking on the far-reaching impact this can have, Mofokeng says it is important to identify the ways in which rape culture has been normalised in our daily interactions.

"When that [Our Perfect Wedding] thing happened and I put in that complaint with the BCCSA people didn't understand initially what the big fuss was about until I explained. All of this is linked to rape culture. The impact will be there because some people don't have the confidence to stand up but if they feel that they are part of this movement we can give them that confidence."

The campaign has not been limited to women.

Men can participate by wearing a red tie, sneakers or any other accessory that will draw attention.