In Cape Town, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Parliament to hand over a memorandum. Protests took place in all major cities, including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.
A moment of silence was observed in honor of children and women killed in gender-based violence, followed by the reading of the memorandum of demands.
“Today, ordinary women came together against oppression of women, femicide and economic inequality,” said one of the organisers, Goapalelwe Phalaetsile.
The South African government has declared August as Women’s Month and Aug. 1 as the day of mourning for victims of gender-based violence. The Women’s Month is celebrated under the theme: “100 Years of Women’s Struggles: Together Fighting Gender-Based Violence.”
The campaign seeks to acknowledge and highlight violent masculinity, harmful traditions and practices that help to normalize gender-based violence and impunity of perpetrators.
Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini urged both men and women to wear black clothes and form a human chain on the streets in front of their offices, homes or social places to remember women and children who are victims of violence.
“Gender-based violence affects us all and it continues to be the responsibility of all people to bring an end to this gross human rights violation,” said Dlamini.`
The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) pledged its unwavering support and solidarity with the campaign, organized by various organizations of civil society and progressive women’s formations.
“We live in a country that is ravaged by atrocious violence against women and children, especially targeted against female black African working-class women and children, most often by people living within our apartheid-created townships or squalid squatter camps,” ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said.
The ANCYL was emboldened by unity of purpose demonstrated by all social forces in these nationwide protests to rid the country of being a “den or heaven” of gender-based violence, said Mkhize.
Gender-based violence has long been a headache for South Africa, where sexual offences against women increased from 31,665 in 2015 to 2016 to 70,813 in 2016 and 2017, an increase of 53 per cent, according to official statistics.
Everyday three women die at the hands of their intimate partners in South Africa, while an average of 109.1 rapes are recorded each day during the 2016 to 2017 period.