Thousands march against violence against women

Woman tells of how she jumped from moving car to escape abductor

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Photo of woman dressed in white
A woman dressed in white led a march in Pretoria on Saturday against violence against women. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Thousands of people participated in a mass demonstration against gender based violence in the capital Pretoria on Saturday under the slogan #notinmyname. People gathered at Church Square and marched to the Union Buildings. In a symbolic gesture the crowd was led by a barefoot woman dressed fully in white who organisers said was representative of all the women who have suffered abuse at the hands of men.

Some held up signs bearing the names of women who have lost their lives in violent attacks by men.

Among those marching was twenty four year old Bukelwa Moerane who recently survived an abduction. In February this year Bukelwa was threatened with harm and forced into a man’s car at the Bara taxi rank in Diepkloof, Soweto. “While I was in the car I tried not to panic and looked for a way to escape. I noticed the doors were unlocked and decided to jump out,” said Moerane.

Her jump from a moving vehicle caused severe injuries to her face and body. The attacker kept making U-turns and looking for her. Hurt and bleeding she hid in a nearby bush. “When after his third U-turn his car pulled up beside where I was hiding I decided to make a run for it and made it to a nearby filling station where I got help, but before that I tried getting the attention of passing cars but no-one stopped to assist.”

Moerane made an appeal to all men to have the courage to help women who find themselves in vulnerable situations. “You hear women in your neighbourhood being beaten. You see abuse at taxi ranks or wherever, take a stand. Try and help that woman. We need to individually be the change that we want to see in South Africa.”

A large number of men took part in the protest. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Sifiso Nkosi accompanied his seven-year-old grandson. “As men we have to take collective responsibility for the safety of the girls and young women in our communities. It starts in our homes. We as fathers and grandfathers have to educate our young boys. They must understand from a very young age that respect for women is non-negotiable. And we as elders must set an example for them to follow,” said Nkosi. He lamented that in his community a large number of young boys are growing up in homes without fathers and therefore look for guidance on the streets where their behaviours are influenced by bad elements.

One of the organisers of the march, Siyabulela Jentile, said that men who remain silent while violence is being perpetrated against women are equally as responsible as the men committing the violence. “On behalf of all men in South Africa whether they agree with me or not, we apologise,” said Jentile as he addressed the women in the crowd. “We failed you and we apologise. We will become better men for you.” Jentile encouraged other men as well as civil society to join forces with the #notinmyname movement so that they could tackle gender based violence.

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TOPICS:  Human Rights Violence

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