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Activists rail against women abuse at City gathering Print E-mail
23 November 2017

Women and children’s advocacy groups have urged the City of Johannesburg to put “gender-based violence” on the spotlight everyday throughout the year.

Just a few days before the nation observes the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children; and also the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, activists have up the ante calling on the City to do more to fight the scourge of violence on women.

Speaking at the City’s 16 Days of Activism Symposium which was organised by the Social Cluster on Wednesday in Florida Park, a community leader from Zandspruit, Noxolo Pefile said: “Women get abused every day in our communities. We have a crisis on our hands. The time for talking is over. We must implement policies that protect women and children.”

The event was attended by at least 150 delegates, including community leaders, policy makers, academics, activists, NGOs, private sector and government.

Bridget Makhonza, from the LGBTIQA+ community, told a chilling story of how she and her partner survived corrective rape.

“One night my partner and I were ambushed by two armed men in our room. They held us down as they were about to rape us. They wanted to rape us because we are lesbians. I tried to fight them off to save our lives. It was either us or them who had to die. In the moment of rage, I grabbed a knife in the dark and stabbed one of our attackers a multiple-times to death,” said Makhonza.

Makhonza was then convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for murder in 2003, but she was later acquitted on appeal in 2005.

The Speaker of Council, Councillor Vasco da Gama agreed with activists that the abuse of women and children had reached a crisis level.

“The abuse of women in the City has reached a crisis point. The crisis of gender-based violence is created by men and not women. The perpetrators, who are mostly men, have brought shame to all men. The battle against violence on women and children is a battle for the soul of this country and certainly this City,” said Cllr Da Gama.

Da Gama said he believed the symposium which had been convened by the City’s Legislature, would provide a clear way forward for the City and stakeholders; to better wage war against the abuse of women and children.

Cllr Nazley Sharif, the Chairperson of Section 79 Committee responsible for Gender, Youth and People living with Disabilities, said it was important for the City and society as a whole to challenge patriarchy and create safe spaces, where particularly young women can raise their issues without fear.

“The plight of women must be taken to every boardroom, national office and political space. We must continue to tell girl children that they can become anything they want to become. We must tell them they can be Mayor of Johannesburg and the Speaker of Council. We must continue to speak positive messages to them,” said Cllr Sharif.

She challenged successful and older women to mentor younger women.

“Women who have broken invisible glass ceiling, should take young women by hand and mentor them. It is important for young women and girls to see themselves in other women who are successful in all spaces of leadership,” added Cllr Sharif.

Karina Van Zyl, the Sub Unit Head for Women and Elderly in the City, said the City had found that a lot of women were vulnerable to abuse because of poverty; and that many of them stay in abusive relationships because they are economically dependent on men.

Van Zyl said through the Women Empowerment Policy and Programmes, the City was targeting vulnerable groups such as young women, the LGBTIQA+ community, elderly women, and sex workers particularly in the inner-city, illiterate and poor women amongst others

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Last Updated on 23 November 2017