Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Feeling Good

I received an email today that made me feel pretty damn good about myself. I didn't do much, I just signed an online petition about something that I found atrocious a few months ago.

Look what we accomplished:

"Dear Justin,

A small group of lesbian activists from the poverty-stricken townships of Cape Town walked into South African parliament on Monday and convinced their government to finally start fighting the country’s decades-old scourge of "corrective rape" -- where men rape lesbian women to "turn" them straight. You made that moment possible.

Late last year, these activists called on the world to help them pressure their leaders to take action on corrective rape. We answered their call, and more than 170,000 members from 163 countries joined with them, making this the largest campaign of all time on

Three and a half months later, they succeeded. Teaming up with 23 major South African organizations, they got some of the most powerful officials in the country to agree to bring together various government arms and civil society groups to develop and implement a national action plan to combat corrective rape.

The ministry officials asked for details of specific cases in need of immediate attention, committed to a series of meetings beginning in six weeks, and promised to present concrete proposals to prevent corrective rape by the next meeting.

It’s an astounding victory, far beyond what we ever could have imagined when we set out late last year. Now these activists need your help holding the government accountable for its commitments.

If there was any question about the effect you had, the chief of staff himself confirmed it: At one point in the session he explicitly said, in a pleading voice, "Please don't petition us again."

But that’s exactly what we need to do. The government is making a series of urgent decisions on sexual violence legislation in the next few weeks, and South African activists need your help in pressuring them to follow up their words with tangible action:

Your work led to overwhelming international press coverage of the campaign, taking corrective rape from an unspoken epidemic to a prominent international issue. In the last two weeks alone, the campaign against corrective rape has been covered by Time Magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, MSNBC, Dan Rather, Forbes, Yahoo! News, Salon, and dozens of global outlets from Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Spain, and even a Finnish tabloid.

An elated Luleki Sizwe Founder Ndumie Funda (pictured to the right, alongside the chief of staff from the Ministry of Justice) called it "an incredible achievement…I humble myself to the 170,000 people from all over the world who made this possible. It was about time this happened."

There is still much to be done, but every member should be proud about what has been accomplished here. In just 100 days, a tiny group of township activists have managed to mobilize more than 170,000 people from 163 countries and engaged the highest levels of government to address their demands. That’s incredible.

Thanks for lending your voice.

- Weldon and the team"

I may have been one of 170,000 people, but because 169,999 other people all did the same as me, we helped make a genuine change and improve the lives of people we've never met.

I love the internet.

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