30 July 2018

Southern Africa: All Systems Go for #TheTotalShutdown March, No Men Allowed On the Ground

Organisers of the #TheTotalShutdown march say they only want women and gender non-conforming individuals (GNC) on the ground during the event.

They say it is all systems go for the movement's intersectional march against gender-based violence (GBV), which will take place on Wednesday, August 1 across all nine provinces. There will also be marches in Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.

The movement's strategy and wellness coordinator Mandisa Khanyile said the reason behind the request for only women and GNC individuals to march was to avoid chaos and ensure safety during the marches.

"The aim is not to bring violence to end violence. And that is one of the main reasons why we want women and GNC people on the ground so that we are allowed to experience our mourning on our own and not have to worry about security and protection," Khanyile said.

Men are, however, requested to support the movement by donating money, staying away from work or by standing in for women and GNC people in the workplace.

Khanyile added that, while they were expecting a peaceful march, there would be an increased police and security presence.

She stressed that there would be no buses provided and that those taking part should make their own way to the meeting points.

The movement stressed that people should not make the issue of transport a barrier to participating on Wednesday.

"Our mothers in 1956 did not think of buses and walked to the Union Buildings and where they needed to be," Khanyile said.

The movement stressed the event was non-partisan but said all women and GNC people from all political parties had been invited to march, dressed in black, which according to the movement represents mourning.

'We have requested that churches ring their bells'

Yolanda Mahayle Khontsiwe, who is part of the protest strategy and wellness team, said the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) would hold their own march.

"We reached out to all political parties from the beginning and we said that we are non-partisan. The reason why we differed with the ANCWL is because of regalia. The DA and EFF accepted that they would come dressed in black and red while the ANCWL could not detach themselves from their regalia, and that's why we believe they are marching on their own," Khontsiwe said.

The movement said they were all marching for the same cause and would be supporting the ANCWL, should they meet on routes.

Khontsiwe said there would be a moment of solidarity between 13:00 and 13:30 for all victims, survivors and those affected by gender-based violence.

"We have requested that churches ring their bells at 12:55 nationally to signal solidarity," Khontsiwe said.

The movement said its memorandum of demands was set out as a list of 24 demands that represent each year that the government has failed to ensure womens' right to be free from all forms of violence since the establishment of democracy.

Their demands include that the Ministry of Women in the Presidency convenes a national process to review past national action plans to end GBV, and the development of a criteria for appointing individuals who are tasked with leading efforts to end GBV.

They are also demanding the establishment of a national, and properly resourced, hotline that will enable survivors to request and receive support services.

"The aim of the march is to demand the state to do everything within its powers to allow [us] to realise our right to be free from violence, whether it emanates from the public or private sources," Khontsiwe said.

Source: News24

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