Powa advert
A still from the Powa domestic abuse awareness advert.

A powerful advert promoting awareness of domestic abuse in South Africa has become a worldwide internet sensation, notching up over half-a-million YouTube views.

Advocacy group People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) released the video online with a shocking payoff line: “Every year 1 400 women are killed by their partners. Don’t you think that’s worth complaining about?”

The video shows a young male resident of a Johannesburg townhouse complex practising on a drum set in the early hours of the morning. His antics invite a series of complaints from angry neighbours.

But later, on a different night, the same man blasts a recording of a violent domestic dispute through a stereo system. The soundtrack contains blood-curdling screams, glass smashing and heavy thuds, yet none of the neighbours respond.

The reaction, or rather lack of reaction, was recorded outside the property. (Watch the video below.)

“We weren't sure what was going to happen. We were astonished,” said Fran Luckin, the advertising executive who created the film. “People complained about the drums within minutes. We played the sound of domestic violence three times and there was nothing.

“It's a horrendous sound - we really took it over the top. We were hiding in the house and thought somebody would come with a gun, but they just looked away. It was a real eye-opener. I think nobody really believes that someone dies in a domestic argument.”

Despite the video’s YouTube success, Luckin has mixed feelings. “'I'm glad the message is getting over, but I kind of wish it hadn't worked and someone had said, ‘Knock it off’.

“You like to think you would intervene, but if these normal middle-class people didn't, it makes you ask, ‘What would I have done?’ If it forces you to ask that question then it's done a useful job.”

Watch the video: