#TheTotalShutDown

13 Jun

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In South Africa, the 9th of August has been declared as public holiday and the whole month dedicated to women. As we reach the month, many corporates and government bodies, gear up to plan ‘Women’s day celebrations’. Suddenly on our televisions and radios there is an overkill of messaging talking about how we should treasure our women, how far we have become and that women are the future. As much as I stand by and live by those sentiments, we cannot lose focus on the more important issues that women face on a day to day basis. The reality is that women are not safe in South Africa. In many homes, women and children are faced with harsh abusive lifestyles, on the streets we are sexualised, victimised, raped and disrespected, at work we have to fight for equal rights, face sexual harassment. The list is endless.
These are battles that women and children have been fighting for centuries, it is not an African problem but a global problem. With social media, we now have proof and more and more stories are coming to the foreground. We are still battling with many stereotypes that have been implemented from our patriarchal ideology which dominates our society. We are still calling for solidarity with survivors who speak out, we are still faced with our police officers who have turned away rape survivors and refused them the right to open case against perpetrators. The element of corruption at the police stations and courts is another argument for another day.
For centuries we have marched, picketed, signed petitions etc, yet we still live in fear. Our government appoints officials who do not have women’s interests at heart, women who have publicly sided with offenders and perpetrators.
We are in dire straits and we need urgent action. This is why I have endorsed and support the call to action under the hashtag: #TheTotalShutDown.

I spoke with the national spokesperson: Gretchen Sudenie who is a 35 year old woman living in South Africa.

Why are your involved with this call to action?
As a woman, I am in the disheartening position of stating that that we are experiencing an ever-growing national crisis which affects the largest part of the population. A woman is killed every four hours and for all the other times in-between, women are abused, molested, raped, and assaulted and and and…. In South Africa and these statistics are increasing. Children go missing every single day whilst the leadership of the country carries on with “business as usual.” We are helpless as we watch men in positions of power walk away from their crimes as if it had never occurred. It is for the above and many other reasons, that I have pledged my time, energy and whatever skill I possess, to help place pressure on our Government to put an end to this scourge.

Are women safe in South Africa?
Women are not safe. Children are not safe. I find it strange that women are asked to refer to themselves as survivors, because the startling truth is that we are continuously victimised. By men on the street who do not know us. By the men in our households and family and community who do know us. As it stands now, I will never stop being a victim until the patriarchy and its associated evils, ends. Our Government needs a reality check. Honestly. They are theorising our realities behind closed doors in spacious venues with security on a 24/7 basis whilst we are led away for slaughter. The women in Ministerial positions have failed us in that they have traded their solidarity for the comfort of a paycheck. This is not an insult: it is the truth. They should have used their voices to speak on our behalf. Instead, it is again incumbent upon us to have our own backs, as it were.

What do government need to do?
Government needs to look at qualitatively and quantitatively overhauling its draconian and patriarchal gaze in respect of the Law, the Economy, Social Development Services, etc, in relation to women. Without us, there would be chaos.

How can our Pan African families show support?
We have neighbouring countries, Lesotho and Botswana, who are on board and actively mobilising. This march is not country specific. I would that every country join in and we bring the world to a grinding halt…

I also spoke to another activist Yolanda Dyanti on her thoughts around the the call to action. Yolanda Dyantyi, 21, Is a Media and Communications task team member.

In your opinion why is the march necessary?

This march is necessary as issues of gendered violence have always taken a back stage in South African politics. In a country engulfed with violence, we can no longer ignore the perpetual violence instilled on women, minority intersectional groups and children. As a nation we have conditioned within us and normalised for far too long the violence that occurs daily. We need an action plan from government, ASAP.

From your experience, are one safe in SA and why?
No we are not. Stats alone speak volumes.

In your personal opinion, what do our government need to do in order to change the dire situation that we are in?
Developing the education firstly. GBV is a something conditioned. Through education people can relearn violent ideas/behaviours. Programmes that are home centred and community centred which will also hold individuals accountable

For those not in SA but want to show solidarity, what should they do?
Participate in a stay away, or mobilise and march on the streets in solidarity with us but also because GBV is real everywhere.

Please find the official press release.

National Shut Down Against Gender Based Violence

06 June 2018

On the 1st of August 2018, a day that marks the beginning of women’s month, women from all sectors of South Africa will shut down the country in protest against gender-based violence.

Women in Lesotho and Botswana will also form part of the mass action.

We have nothing to celebrate. Every week we receive multiple reports of women who have been brutally murdered, kidnapped or abused, and there is no sense of urgency from our leaders to find ways in which society can tackle this violence. Women, children, gender non-conforming people (GNC) and the LGBTQIA+ keep dying at the hands of men in South Africa and something needs to be done.

This is a national crisis. We call on all women to stay away from work and join the protest on the 1st of August 2018 in their respective provinces, Universities and colleges.

A memorandum of demands will be handed over to government on the day of the shutdown with clear actions. Further information will be shared about the protest action over the following weeks on our social media pages.

For interviews contact:

Lesley Ncube: 0725442920
Loyiso Saliso: 0738389477
Gretchen Sudenie. : 076 973 8639
#TotalShutDown

-End

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