Editorial: Nothing to celebrate this Women's Month
Here we go again. Another Women’s Month, another slew of protests, of shrill reports about battery and abuse, of useless court cases and ignorant presidents.
On Wednesday, women and gender non-conforming people marched, like women did in 1956, to shut down the country and in protest against gender-based violence. #TotalShutDown was a significant way to show how gatvol women are of gruesome attacks on their bodies. It was a demand for a new course of national action.
The call and conversation should never be overstated or left exclusively to the month of August – and it hasn’t for women – but the state and the men who are the perpetrators only seem able to muster their interest in the conversation for one month, if at all. The same generally applies to the ANC Women’s League, which insists on being a custodian of patriarchy.
No surprise, the league held a separate march on Wednesday after disagreeing about the colours used by the #TotalShutdown movement. Since when is fighting gender-based violence a competition anyway?
To make matters worse, men around the march, including police officers, harassed the women, who documented each insult on social media. While women are being killed, raped and harassed by men, they are also told by men this is a problem which they need to solve.
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived at the Union Buildings horribly late on Wednesday to accept the #TotalShutDown memorandum. He said: “We should appreciate and celebrate you as women and mothers. You bring life into this world. I was brought into this world by the women of our country and it is important for us as men to give that respect to you.”
You could hear the eyes rolling. A woman’s purpose is primarily to procreate? Is this 1818?
Then he added: “We accept that, as women who are the victims of gender-based violence, you are the ones who have the solutions.”
Great, Mr President, but despite all the solutions women have come up with, men remain the perpetrators, men continue to write the laws that fail to protect women. And men like you keep women like Bathabile Dlamini in charge of a ministry that should be the guardian for women, children and the vulnerable.