The Reverend June Dolley Major with survivors of sexual assault and rape walk for victims, on Women’s Day. Picture: Supplied
The Reverend June Dolley Major with survivors of sexual assault and rape walk for victims, on Women’s Day. Picture: Supplied

No cause to celebrate Women’s Day amid continued GBV, femicide, say activists

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Aug 10, 2021

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Cape Town - With well-wishes pouring in on national Women’s Day, activists have chosen to highlight the continued abuses faced by women in the form of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the country – pointing to having little to celebrate.

On August 9, 1956, more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria demanding freedom of movement.

Embrace Project director and co-founder, Lee-Anne Germanos said 65 years later women have still not attained freedom due to GBVF in the country. The non-profit organisation held a virtual protest, yesterday (Mon) to highlight this.

The Embrace Project aims to “creatively combat” GBV and raises funds for grass roots organisations working to combat GBVF.

“Because GBVF and violence generally in South Africa are so normalised our population has a tendency to carry on as if everything is normal. Furthermore, the real aim of this protest is to pressure the government into action; to get them to act on their promises by calling them out on their lack of political will to do so when the finances and infrastructure are all in place.”

Germanos noted law enforcement’s inability to catch perpetrators of sexual violence and violence, no specialised programmes to address GBVF at schools, and no psycho-social services offered by the government to violence prone communities.

“GBVF is not only criminal, it's psychological,” said Germanos.

The Embrace Project has also written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, doubled as a petition signed by 5 000 people.

“The organisation has emphasised that there is #NoCauseForCelebration this Women's Day, and has called on the public to show the president and South Africans, what that means to them.”

Anglican Church reverend June Dolley-Major with supporters and survivors of sexual violence, held a “Walk of Prayer, Walk for Justice’’, on Monday from Zevenwacht Mall to Robert Sobukwe Road. Dolley-Major said the walk was to send a message to survivors of sexual violence that they were not alone. Prayers were said at scenes where sexual violence had occurred.

Dolley-Major with GBV activists intend to walk from the Western Cape to Makhanda, Eastern Cape, where her rape took place19 years ago. She appealed to organisations and companies to assist with items needed for the walk or to open up their homes as a resting place.

Stellenbosch University head of the transformation Dr Zethu Mkhize said most women were still living in poverty and there is a continuous scourge of gender-based violence.

“There is an urgent need for the implementation of the co-ordinated response to the crisis of GBVF by the government of South Africa.”

Mkhize said the pay gap between women and men continued to be a disadvantage for women.

“It pushes women deeper into the hole of debt as the cost-of-living increases. Women get into debt, thus placing their future financial security at risk. Levels of education and work experience are some of the structural reasons for the gender pay gap that must be addressed, as a matter of urgency.”

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Cape Argus

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