Women in various parts of South Africa have taken to the streets to protest the increasing levels of gender-based violence in the country.
As South Africa celebrates Women’s Month throughout August and National Women’s Day on August 9, hundreds of women have decided to use the occasion to raise awareness of violence against women and children under the ‘Total Shutdown’ banner.
South Africa’s femicide rate is five times more than the global rate. According to a report by Africa Check, the global figure for femicide in 2015 was 2.4 per 100,000 women, while South Africa’s rate was four times higher at 9.6 per 100,000 women.
South African women constantly take to social media to share images of young women murdered by their partners - like Karabo Mokoena, who was murdered in 2017 by her ex-boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe.
In May 2018, on the same day Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty, another femicide case broke. This time 21-year-old student, Zolile Khumalo was allegedly shot and killed by her boyfriend, Thabani Mzolo. He is awaiting trial.
Aside from cases where partners are the perpetrators, South African women are also victims of random rapes and murders.
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Dubbed an ‘intersectional women’s march’ and organized by WomenProtestSA, the march called for women to take to the streets under the rallying cry: “My body, not your crime scene.”
Organizers also called for men to support by not spending or taking part in any economic activity. They also urged men to donate to ‘The Total Shutdown’s’ cause or helping women and gender non-conforming people by taking over their work and domestic duties.
Most importantly, they called on men to stop the abuse of women and children.
According to the organizers’ website, ‘The Total Shutdown’ marches will take place in eight provinces as well as in other African countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, and Namibia.
The women planned to march to South Africa’s parliament, Supreme Court of Appeal and other provincial and regional structures where a memorandum of demands would be handed over to the government, organizers said.
The memorandum details action steps for the government to take to deal with “gender-based violence and make the country safe,” the group posted on their website.
To support protesters, organizers provided bus pick-up points and time schedules as well as a breakdown of various locations across the nation that will serve as marching sites - from hospitals to city halls and parliament.