In a remarkable display of unity and solidarity, about 3000 people participated in the “Justice for Women” march along Durban’s Beachfront on Saturday morning, 7 September. Men, women and children dressed in black walked along the promenade with placards calling for an end to the violence and abuse of women.
The march was planned after the rape and killing of University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana and the recent hanging in Pinetown of four children by their father.
The protesters recited powerful messages and poetry and marched with placards saying “I don’t want to die with my legs open”, “Am I next?” and “I will march for all the women and all the others who aren’t mentioned”.
One of the organisers, Jade O’Shea, said the march was in response to their outrage. “Although we do not know all the victims or scores of South African women who have been harmed, harassed, assaulted, raped or murdered by men, we felt as though the brutal blowing out of their candle is another blow to our kind. Another blow to us. The consequence of our culture had incited a collective consciousness. Every single woman we spoke to felt the same,” said O’Shea.
One woman at the protest said that she was raped when she was only 13-years-old. She said she had decided to reveal this as a way of healing and also to encourage other women to tell of their past ordeals. “I decided to stand up for myself. Women are being raped and abused and yet they decide to keep quiet. I am not keeping quiet.
We say to the government enough is enough,” she said. An elderly woman in the crowd, Vanitha Naidoo, said: “We are sick and tired of trusted and highly respected people like elders and educators who visit us and we trust them but they end up raping women. We need to fight and stand up for one another. Women should speak with one voice in order to combat this brutality.”
Revolution Motorcycle Club from Chatsworth was proud to support the march against violence against women. Club president Clive Pillay said: “While we might project a macho image as bikers, we believe as men we are here to protect women and children. Not beat them up.
“It was truly an emotional experience being with thousands of women and men to voice our anger at the continued violence against women. For us in the biking community, this awareness and education to stop violence against women will continue beyond this march.
We will put programmes in place to help women going through abuse and make men aware of their role as fathers, sons and boyfriends,” said Pillay. Demonstrators also called on lawmakers to take more stringent action against offenders.