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Marlene Le Roux on Women’s Month: ‘Why are we celebrating when women are raped and killed every day?’

Marlene Le Roux. Picture: Armand Hough

Marlene Le Roux. Picture: Armand Hough

Published Aug 2, 2022


As soon as she picked up the phone, CEO of Artscape Marlene Le Roux said: “Enough is enough, these acts of violence against women in our country must end … now.”

According to Le Roux, there is no point in celebrating Women’s Month when women continue to live in fear for their lives, are attacked in their homes, and raped every minute in South Africa.

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Referring to the eight young women who were brutally attacked and gang raped recently while shooting a music video in Krugersdorp mine dump, Le Roux said gender-based violence must stop.

She said: “The time is now for us to do the necessary reflection and introspection, and talk about meaningful societal change.

“So for me, it is important that we not just have national days, because what is happening is that we have become a country of national days.

“During Youth Month, we had horrific deaths of young people in the tavern. Just last week, we had eight young women raped in Krugersdorp.

“We cannot be quiet anymore. My plea is for this Women’s Month to be a month of compassion. A month where we do deep reflection. We need need to ask ourselves, ‘why is this brutality happening?’

“As the days creep up on us, it’s like these monsters say let’s show them. Before the 16 Days of Activism campaign starts, how many women and children get killed? Now shortly before Women’s Month, women are gang raped.”

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Le Roux added: “The patriarchial system is embedded in our society. It starts from the top. We can have 50% of women in Parliament that I can tell you now abuse is happening to them … I can tell you now how they are being sidelined … why are we not talking about the woman president? Why are we not passing the decriminalisation of sex workers?

“This is not a tea party anymore. We can’t have high teas on Women's Day; forget about it. Who are we celebrating? Helen Joseph, Charlotte Maxeke, Fatima Meer and all the brave women who marched in 1956 must be dying in their graves today, over and over again.

“I don’t even want to talk about women with disabilities. The statistics of rape are so high among women with disabilities and mental disabilities.

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“They don’t even report these cases because our justice system doesn’t have interpreters. They are not even trained on how to deal with persons with disabilities.”

Le Roux spoke strongly of the importance of teaching a boy child right from wrong while he is still young so that when he is grown, he will respect another human being.

“Women must also do introspection, we must also say to ourselves, how do we raise our boy child? This is not just about poor boy children. This is also about affluent men, who are also emotionally abusing women … men who are sugar daddies … this must come to a stop in our society.”

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She said education must be prioritised for women to enable women become economically viable.

“The government should support civil society on the ground; look at safe houses, programmes to empower women, and women entrepreneurship … this is where our money needs to go, not the government officials’ pockets.”

Le Roux encouraged women to march to Parliament, as the women did in 1956.

“We must have another march and this should be a march about compassion. It should be a march about women wanting their rightful place as human beings in our society.”

Artscape is commemorating Women’s Month with a series of stage works, book launches and film screenings as part for their 16th annual “Women Humanities Arts Festival”, set to take place from August 3 to August 27.

This is the first full live event in two years, and the festival aims to provide a space for healing with themes of breathing, grounding, care and belonging.

There will also be several activities on Women’s Day including the “Circle of Care” in solidarity with all victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, and those affected by gender-based violence.

“Every year during Women’s Month, we at Artscape as a collective raise our voice using the arts as a conduit through the Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival highlighting the profile, power, performance and plight of women.

“Equally we celebrate the great strides we have made as a gender, and indeed together as a country including paying tribute to those who have led the way to secure our emancipation.

Visit the Artscape website for the full programme and more information on the festival.

In commemoration of Women’s Month, they have compiled a list of art and theatre shows that will be staged at theatre houses and art venues across the country.

The month of August also marks 10 years since the Marikana massacre and the SA State Theatre will showcase the award-winning “Marikana: The Musical”.

AbFab Drag (Artscape)

AbFab Drag returns with a bang for One show only featuring top-class, Drag divas Vida Fantabisher, Manila von Teez, Kat Gilardi, Jayde Kay Johnson and Angel Lalamore, all choreographed and put together with the sublime dancers of the Jazzart Dance Theatre.

MC Soli Philander is no stranger to the Artscape Stage and will narrate you through this magical show with Basil Appollis as the director of the show.

Date: August 9

Manila von Teez. Picture: Facebook

Two Hues’ film screening (Artscape)

This event comprises film screening of the multi-award-winning short film, “Two Hues”, followed by an information session. This revealing, 16-minute short film movie follows the journey of a bipolar photographer while navigating patriarchy in a Muslim family.

Date: August 9

‘Two Hues’. Picture: Supplied

Sistas’ (The Gallery)

This collaboration of artists and poets pays tribute to all women, encouraging the sharing of stories, creating dialogue, bridging our cultural and gender differences, and connecting us humans all the more – after all this is what it is to be a “Sista"!

The Studios, Ballito Lifestyle Centre is hosting “First Thursdays” on August 4 – an all-day event, starting at 9 am – with our exhibition opening at 6 pm.

Date: August 4.

Sistas. Picture: The Gallery Lifestyle.

Ruined’ (The Market Theatre)

Directed by Clive Mathibe, ‘Ruined’ involves the plight of a group of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Set in Mama Nadi’s bar – a haven for miners, government soldiers and rebel militia, where they come to forget the ruins of war, drink and dance with women and feed their desires.

The play centres on the lives of the women working in the bar and their resolve to survive despite the atrocities they have experienced.

Date: August 10-28.

Shoki Mmola and Fulu Mugvhani in ‘Ruined’. Picture: Market Theatre

Hansard’ by Simon Woods (Theatre on the Square)

An intriguing, witty and moving new international play which premiered at London’s National Theatre shortly before the start of the global pandemic, will be presented for the first time in South Africa.

Directed by theatre legend Robert Whitehead, Hansard starred award-winning veterans, Fiona Ramsay (Diana) and Graham Hopkins (Robin).

Although the drama is set in 1988, it is written with today in mind. Robin is strongly right-wing and contemptuous of identity politics, while Diana’s liberal attitudes are excitingly critical of Tory’s rule and entitlement.

Their personal relationship is also not as blissful as it seems and family secrets spark, in this compelling domestic drama.

Date: August 10 – 28.

Graham Hopkins and Fiona Ramsay in ‘Hansard’. Picture: Philip Kuhn

Marikana – The Musical’ (SA State Theatre)

The month of August this year will mark the 10 years anniversary of the Marikana Massacre which saw the killing of 34 protesting mineworkers by police in Marikana, near Rustenburg in 2012.

The show returns after a four years stage hiatus and it features Meshack Mavuso-Magabane, Aubrey Poo, Siyasanga Papu, Emma Mmekwa, and Mpho “Mckenzie” Matome, who lead a 40 members cast and 13-piece band in unleashing a blow-by-blow account of the events that led to the loss of 44 lives at the hands of the police and the miners during the period of the massacre.

Date: On until August 28.

Meshack Mavuso Magabane. Picture: Sanmari Marais