When the #MeToo movement took off in the United States, it sent ripple effects around the world.
On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by two writers from very different parts of the world for a look at how violence against women and other vulnerable individuals manifests across the globe, and how it is countered and called out by women who write.
Martha Mukaiwa is a freelance feature and travel writer and activists from Namibia. Her work, which has appeared in publications including The Namibian, Quartz and The Africa Reporter, explores black identity and issues concerning women and the LGBTQIA+ community. She says she’s watched the #MeToo Movement take hold in her home county, aggregating online under the hashtag #MeTooNamibia.
“#MeTooNamibia movement is actually a practical movement that exists beyond the online space,” Mukaiwa says. “#MeTooNamibia has alliance members like the Namibian Women Lawyers Association… So they actually take that courage from the digital space and bring it into real life and give women psycho-social support and also give free legal assistance for women to come forward and report their cases.”
Gabriela Roman Fuentes is a playwright, stage director, and actor who lives in Mexico City. She tackles issues of violence against women and other topics related inequality through her stage productions across Mexico.
“I think there’s an emotional connection. Not just talking about sexuality, but also about rights,” Roman Fuentes says. “I think that, the power of art to put a face in a problem like violence against women… it’s someone with a face, with a story, with a name. I think it’s a good way to get through to people so they can really feel and start [asking] questions.”
Mukaiwa and Roman Fuentes are fall fellows of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and will be based in Iowa City, writing and teaching their work through mid-November.