South African women refuse to be silenced

Nomsa Maseko

Women shout slogans as they protest in Johannesburg on Friday

BBC Africa,

Johannesburg

In South Africa, last week’s news cycle was littered with stories of the rape and murder of women and children in several parts of the country.

It left many women asking: “Am I Next?”

One high-profile case involved a post office worker who confessed to the rape and murder of 19-year-old student Uyinene Mrwetyana. It was a moment which made women feel vulnerable and scared.

The latest crime statistics, which were released on Thursday, revealed that their fears are justified. Murder, rape and sexual assaults have all increased.

But many women refuse to be silenced. On Friday, hundreds of women, mostly dressed in black, began to gather in Johannesburg in the early hours of the morning to raise awareness against gender-based violence.

The march was not specifically targeted at the government. It was held in Sandton, near to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Organisers of the #SandtonShutdown protest said they decided to protest outside the JSE to “plead with the private sector to intervene in the fight against gender-based violence”.

The mood was sombre and many women were crying. Some protesters held up placards pleading with society to put an end to the violence.

But with the South African police service overstretched and often accused of turning away victims who are desperate for help, it remains to be seen how the country plans to tackle this very real and disturbing problem.

About Anthony Otushabire

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