ANCWL’s Young Women’s Desk march against GBV

All four regions of the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) in Bokone Bophirima held successful marches against gender-based violence this past Wednesday, 1 August.
These marches - organized and led by the ANC Women’s League’s Young Women’s Desk - also formed part of the Women’s Month launch. 
The Ngaka Modiri Molema march was held in Mahikeng. 
Also known as “Ma Younger Younger”, the disciplined, militant and strong young women of the ANCWL marched in solidarity with all South African women to highlight the suffering faced by women and children in the country.
The march started from The Crossing Mall and ended at the provincial office of the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management.
ANCWL Provincial Convenor, Ontlametse Mochware, called on all organisations to join hands in the fight against women and child abuse. 
“Young women should be able to respect their bodies and say no to blessers. Poverty should not be a reason for these old men to disrespect the bodies of our children. We want to send a strong warning to those that abuse our women and children that enough is enough,” Mochware said. 
ANCWL Provincial Coordinator of the Young Women’s Desk, Virginia Tsotso Tlhapi, was equally vocal.
“We come here in one spirit to demand the safety of women of our land. We are here to demand an end to gender-based violence, women abuse and femicide, which is today out of control in our land. We are here to cement our commitment to the struggle against patriarchy and to affirm our desire for women emancipation and gender equality.
“We live in fear because of men who violate us and have no respect for our bodies. Women and children are the largest proportion of poor people and remain vulnerable in society, including being victims of violence and abuse. As we stand here today, a woman is killed in South Africa every four hours and at least half of these women die in the hands of their partners. This is five times more than the global average. Stats SA reported a 117% hike in gender based violence cases in South Africa. The statistics of violence against women are very high and disturbing and something needs to be done now,” said Tlhapi. 
She added that the rape culture is also increasing in religious and learning institutions.
“Rape is on the rise in our communities and in institutions of higher learning. Religious places have not been spared as women are touched inappropriately in churches and raped in the name of prayers. Churches must be regulated to guard against these wrong activities that happen in the name of the church. It is not easy to speak out when raped because women get isolated when they speak out.
“Students and women academics who are raped in institutions of higher learning are forced to face their abusers everyday on campuses if they are strong enough not to quit. Rape is deadly because even innocent babies and tired grandmothers are also raped,” said the young leader. 
The Young Women’s Desk called for harsher sentences to be imposed on those who are found guilty of rape. They explained that women and children who are living with disabilities are also vulnerable because they cannot physically defend themselves. Women and children who live with albinism also live in fear because they are brutally kidnapped, raped, murdered and their body parts are used for criminal activities and rituals.
“We need to protect those who live with albinism and the justice system must serve harsher sentences to perpetrators of this gruesome act. Our women and children with this condition deserve the dignity accorded to all human beings. The schooling environment, workplace and public utilities must meet the needs of their condition. We also sympathise with disabled women and children who are most likely vulnerable and stand greater chances of being victims of gender-based violence in our communities,” said Tlhapi. 
The Young Women’s Desk called on the Department of Higher Education and Training to draft and adopt a standardised gender and sexual harassment policy for all institutions of higher learning. It emphasised the point that such a policy must not protect perpetrators under the disguise of respecting their rights.
Some of the demands of the ANCWL were that the patriarchal system of land being inherited by males in most families was unfair because women are responsible for building families and homes. The ANC Women’s League believes that land expropriation should also benefit women.
At the end of the march, a female representative from the Department of Community Safety and Transport, Mmaserame Dayel, received a memorandum of demands. The department was given 15 days to respond.