South African women march against gender-based violence

Thousands of women and gender activists joined together on the first day of Women’s Month to protest the rising incidence of gender-based violence across the country.

The movement’s Brenda Madumise said the marchers, under the banner #TheTotalShutdown, were taking control of their destiny.

“We are saying that we had enough,” said Patience Mpani from the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. “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.”

Nontembeko Luzipo of the South African Federation of Trade Unions said justice authorities and the police have failed women.

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

Although organizers failed to achieve a “total shutdown” of South Africa, a mood of profound anger was visible and audible on a scale rarely evident, observed editors at the Daily Maverick.

Taking to social media, local celebrities shared their thoughts on and snaps of the intersectional women’s march.

“Idols SA” judge and singer Unathi shared a snap of herself alongside the caption, “Thank you ABUSIVE MEN of South Africa for forcing us start OUR month with THIS campaign! ENOUGH is ENOUGH! PS If you’re not abusive and yet keep quiet when your friends abuse women in your presence or you just know of it… MAN UP!”

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who received a list of demands from the women, promised to conduct a gender summit aimed at raising awareness regarding women abuse and rape. After arriving late for a meeting with women organizers, he apologized for the way police had handled the protest while trying to remove protestors from the union buildings, saying there would be measures taken against the police for such behavior and actions.

Mass marches took place across all nine provinces, and neighboring countries Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia held their own marches for the same cause.