South Africa: Why We Still Need 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children


On 6 December 1989 Marc Lépine, a male engineering student at the Ecolé Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada, walked into a classroom with an armed rifle. He separated the male students from the female students. He declared his hatred of feminists, proceeded to kill 14 female students, wounded 13 people and then turned the gun on himself. Despite Lépine's express anti-feminist motive and a suicide letter declaring the same, it took 30 years for the City of Montreal to change the wording on the plaque hanging in the park commemorating the victims of that day. It was changed from "tragic event" to an "anti-feminist attack". For several years the attack was seen as the actions of a madman and not one of a man who had killed women for the simple fact that they dared take on an occupation that was traditionally reserved for men.

The massacre of 6 December 1989 was one of the events that led to the first campaign of 16 days of activism that was held in 1991 and was initiated by the Women's Global Leadership Institute. Feminists from around the globe agreed that it was necessary to recognise gender-based forms of violence. It became increasingly important...

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