Women in battle dress: how clothes have been used as a form of protest

Dressed all in black or refusing to be draped in black, wearing traditional regalia or protesting against it — or even going naked: the clothing might change, but its place in women’s protest has not, write Leonie Wagner and Nadine Dreyer

09 August 2020 - 00:00 By Leonie Wagner and Nadine Dreyer

When Tshegofatso Pule was found stabbed to death and hanged from a tree in June, South Africans were overcome with grief. This act of indescribable cruelty traumatised a nation overwhelmed with despair at the endless pandemic of violence against women. Tshegofatso’s body, bloody and battered, was discovered hanging from a blue-gum tree in a patch of veld in Durban Deep, Roodepoort. She was eight months pregnant.

In August last year 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and bludgeoned to death at the Clareinch Post Office in Claremont, Cape Town. An unassuming government building in the suburbs was the scene for this grotesque assault on a young woman who had yet to fulfil her dreams. Thousands took to the streets across the country with the social media hashtag #AmINext to demonstrate their rage at the fatal attack on the University of Cape Town student...

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