The Pretoria leg of the #TotalShutdown march brought the capital city to a standstill as marchers thronged the streets chanting “No means No!" in a bid to bring an end to gender based violence.
“We are making history with this march. Today we stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us. We are standing here for Thembisile Yende and Karabo Mokoena. We are no longer saying "Enough is Enough. Today we are saying No More!” said #TotalShutdown national task team spokesperson Loyiso Saliso, to a cheering crowd.
The nationwide march, which took place in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State, Eastern and Western Cape, called for a firmer stance and action on gender based violence.
A memoranda of demands are expected to be handed over to government, Parliament and other provincial and local structures.
Organisers of the march compiled a list of 24 demands, which include, among others;
- A strong message from the office of the President that gender based violence is alarmingly high and cannot be tolerated at any level of society, and a commitment to never appoint any individual who has been implicated in GBV to Cabinet or to lead a State institution.
- Publication of a timeline for the roll out of Thuthuzela care centres.
- Introduction of an automated national registry for protection orders.
- Provision of shelters and interim housing to enable women to escape abusive relationships.
The #TotalShutdown movement started on social media and mobilised women and members of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) to take a stand against all forms of violence.
Placards bearing the faces of victims of abuse such as Karabo Mokoena and posters written “My body my property” hovered above the marchers for all to see.
Influenced by the #MeToo movement, 23-year-old, Gugulethu Zama said she supported the march to stand in solidarity with women in abusive relationships, who do not have the courage to leave as yet.
“This is to say to them, ‘it is okay. You are not alone’.”
While men were encouraged to support the march by staying away from work and not buy anything to shut down the economy, they were barred from attending the actual marches.
“We decided not to have men in the march because men are perpetrators of violence and we want them to listen to what our solutions are to their crimes against us,” said #TotalShutdown organising committee member Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile.
Phalaetsile, a rape survivor herself, said the march is a platform for women to lead the solutions to gender based violence themselves.
The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) -- which led its own 100 Men March in July, calling on men to boldly declare that violence against women and children will not be tolerated in their communities -- came out in support of the #TotalShutdown.
Acting GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams said government is in support of any march that seeks to eradicate the social ill that is gender based violence.
“Our stance as government is that everyone can lend a hand, both men and women, and we need to have men on our side to fight the scourge of gender-based violence. Perhaps men within their circles can talk to and encourage their brothers, cousins and friends to stop violence against women,” said Williams.
Donate and support to end gender based violence
Supporters of the #TheTotalShutdown can donate to the movement by following the link on http://thetotalshutdown.org.za/donate/.
Citizens can also pledge their support for the 100 Men March by signing an online petition which is accessible through the link: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/100-men-march.html -SAnews.gov.za