'Don't tell girls not to walk alone at night - teach boys not prey on them', say protesters outside parliament

Youth march on parliament to call for tougher laws on gender-based violence

24 June 2020 - 18:31 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Young people descended on parliament on Wednesday to urge the government to step up its fight against gender-based violence.
Young people descended on parliament on Wednesday to urge the government to step up its fight against gender-based violence.
Image: Esa Alexander

SA's stance on gender-based violence (GBV) is twisted. Instead of teaching girls not to walk alone at night, society should teach boys not to prey on girls.

This was the message from throngs of youth who marched on parliament on Wednesday to demand a "better strategy from government" to curb GBV.

One of the protesters, Simile Figlan, described it as a pandemic. She said it was time for men to resume their role as protectors.

“We are protesting against gender-based violence, which is taking over our world. It’s becoming a pandemic and as women and communities we are tired of it,” said Figlan.

“Women are taught not to walk alone at night, instead of men being taught not to prey on lone women. We are taught not to leave our drinks [unattended], instead of men not to drug us.

“What are we supposed to do? We should be protected by our fathers. What they are doing to us now is not what we expect of them.

“It’s time for us to take a stand because we are tired of this. It’s time that we show the world that as women, we want change. We want to break the silence and end the violence.”

Fellow protestor Athenkosi Nyovana said young men had come out to support to protest  because they felt that the government is not doing enough to curb the scourge.

“Gender-based violence has to end," he said.

Young people protesting outside parliament against gender-based violence say it's time for tougher laws.
Young people protesting outside parliament against gender-based violence say it's time for tougher laws.
Image: Esa Alexander

“We are gathered here today because we feel that the government has not done enough and has failed to reassure our sisters that they will be safe in our country. The government only talks about plans, so we have come here to demand action. It might not end today or tomorrow, but we will stand together as the youth

Sibahle Bini shared Nyovana’s sentiments. She called for tougher laws to address the GBV pandemic.

“Women and children are being killed every day in our communities. Rapists are roaming our streets. We don’t feel safe,” she said.

“It’s time our government gave the laws some teeth. What kind of society are we if women don’t feel safe in their own neighbourhoods?

“I hope our actions won’t be in vain. Change should happen and happen now.”


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