Living In Constant Fear Of Being Raped, Tortured And Killed

“Enough is enough. We are now taking control.”

This was the message from women and gender non-conforming (GNC) people on Thursday as they prepared to embark on mass protests against gender-based violence across the country.

The event is scheduled to take place on August 1 under the hashtag #TheTotalShutdown.

Lesotho and Botswana are also expected to form part of the mass shutdown and men are encouraged to support the movement by staying away from work.

Students take part in a protest against rape in Hyderabad, southern India. Such protests are largely confined to urban areas. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

Taking control

The movement’s Brenda Madumise said they called for a shutdown to “take control of their destiny”.

“Enough is enough. We are now taking control. We have been dictated to for a long time on how we should protest, how we should register our dissatisfaction. So we have designed this cause for ourselves to shut the country down.”

Madumise added that there was nothing “special” about receiving happy Mother’s Day messages when women around the country suffered from gender-based violence.

“What is happy about women’s month when our sisters, our aunts, our mothers, our daughters are raped and killed [in] the workplace. What is happy about that?”

Patience Mpani from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria said they fully supported every woman taking part in the march.

Living in fear

“We are saying that we had enough. We are dying every day and we [cannot] continue to live like this. It can’t be business as usual in South Africa when women are dying every day,” Mpani said.

 Mpani said women in the country lived in constant fear.

“We are wearing fear like a second skin and we can’t continue to live like this.”

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) also pledged their support for the national shutdown.

Saftu’s Nontembeko Luzipo justice authorities and the police have failed women.

Time to hear the voices

“When they go and report these cases…most of the time the perpetrator will be in the streets. They do something today. They are free and out on bail tomorrow.”

Luzipo called on the government to act and “hear the voices”.

Fedusa’s Elray David added: “There is not one place a woman can go where you are really feeling safe. We live in fear. Fear robs you of truly being free, but also as a warning, fear breeds anger.”

David said the march was not politically-driven but women were standing up and saying: “We had enough.”

“We are tired of attending funerals when we should be attending weddings. It is important that we don’t police women anymore.”


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