Young and old from Hangberg made their voices heard on Friday September 6, joining thousands of others all over the country in protesting and showing their anger towards escalating violence against women and children.
Sentinel Primary, Hout Bay High, Hout Bay Educare, community leaders, residents and businesses all came together to take a stand.
Geraldine Adams from Hangberg joined the pupils chanting, “Enough is enough” and said Hangberg was one of the communities where women and children suffer from abuse. “There are many women in this very community who choose not to speak up out of fear of being beaten or killed by their partners. We are here to say it’s enough now, we have had enough. I am sick to my stomach of reading of a woman abused and raped, the next story, children being raped and killed,” she said. “It’s time we speak up and make it known that we are not okay with this.”
Sibabalwe Maqam from Imizamo Yethu might only be 13 years old, but she made sure her voice was heard among the group of protesters, spurring on the crowd to get more involved.
“Am I next? When is my memorial? Why must we as kids live in such fear? You hear something about it every day in the news, where our women and children are killed and raped. It’s not fair. We are paying with our lives and it is by time that everybody starts supporting each other and speaking up. We are supposed to be a beautiful nation, a rainbow nation,” she said, struggling to hold back her tears.
“The only colour I see in our rainbow is red. The red is for the blood we have lost.”
Last week, thousands of protesters took to the streets, heading towards Parliament to hand over a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who briefly addressed the crowd and promised to have a response ready within an hour. Despite missing the deadline by a few hours, the president returned with the promised response in a televised address to the nation later that day.
Mr Ramaphosa pledged that he would look at restructuring the criminal justice system, opening more dedicated courts to deal with cases of violence against women and children, and harsher prison sentences for sexual offenders and murderers, among others.
Bronwen Moore, the founder and director of Hout Bay-based Community Cohesion, an NGO that works with victims of violence and crime, said it was “wonderful” to see that the issue of gender- based and sexual violence was being openly spoken and protested about.
She was also happy to learn that many young boys and men were making their voices heard. “This entire movement can fail if we isolate men from the solution. This is not just a women’s issue, it is a societal issue, and men are key to finding long lasting solutions to the pandemic of gender-based violence we see daily,” Ms Moore said.
She said there has been numerous research papers on the impact of men being excluded from the debate. “Studies have found that toxic masculinity increases when men are ‘othered’ and positive masculinity increases when men are part of a collective solution,” Ms Moore said.
She would like to see more gender-based violence workshops hosted at school level and would also like to see the president living up to his promises around the issue. “Call your male friends out when they make sexist jokes, girls speak out when you are feeling uncomfortable with a situation you might find yourself in, parents listen to your children and speak to them about sexuality and sex and gender issues, in a positive way,” Ms Moore encouraged.
Community activist Roscoe Jacobs said it was important for Hangberg to have their say. “We simply cannot stand for it (gender-based violence) and it has to be rooted out. We need to teach our kids the importance of this. We need everybody to stand together because enough is enough now, especially for our children, who are paying with their lives.”