Young women must come out and shame their abusers, say activists
March against violence in Duncan Village
About 80 girls and women marched in Duncan Village at the weekend to protest against women abuse and gender-based violence in the township.
The march, on 8 September, was organised by the Ikhayalethu Girls’ Club in Duncan Village, supported by Bumb’ ingomso, which is part of the Small Projects Foundation, and the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality women’s caucus, a group of 11 women councillors in East London.
Zikhona Vellem, the co-founder of Ikhayalethu Girls Club says she started the club to protect young women. The club provides counselling, study groups, dance and health education.
“Young girls get raped and abused but suffer in silence. We say young women must come out and shame their abusers. Our vision is to show that something good can come out of Duncan Village. There is a norm among young girls here that if you succeed you must have slept with someone in power. We want to remove that,” said Vellem.
Asisipho Ntulani, a 10-year-old club member, said she wanted the police “to protect us as children growing up in Duncan Village.”
Nosipho Witbooi, who was also part of the march, said, “The police here are failing us. My sister’s child was raped by someone very close to our family earlier this year. But this was not reported and was just talked about among the family. Her mother said she was afraid of being judged by the family and society. Today we want to kill this mentality; people must expose abusers and not protect them.”
“Sometimes you hear even women saying these girls invite rapists because they wear revealing clothes. We must stop creating excuses for rape. Women have a right to wear what they want, and walk freely.”
Masixole Kataza, an activist and also a founder of Ikhayalethu Girls Club, said as a man he saw the need to start the club to show that not all men are monsters towards women.
“We want to confront the labelling of men as trash. Ikhayalethu is here to make sure that young girls don’t miss out on having a father figure in their lives. Down with women abuse, especially in Duncan Village. Our duty is to protect and love women and children. I call on every man to join the cause,” said Kataza.
Another resident who didn’t want to be named said a teacher had raped a 13-year-old girl on school premises in Duncan Village this year, but this had not been reported to the police. “The school is treating the rape as its big secret. Children are not safe here.”
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