JOHANNESBURG – Crowds are swelling outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton where thousands of South Africans are hoping to disrupt businesses and bring greater attention to the country’s crisis of gender-based violence (GBV).
Friday’s demonstration is being organised by several civil society groups and they are expecting at least 10,000 people to attend. Protesters are demanding action against the abuse and killing of women.
“We believe that as a huge player in the country, one that has influence and affects the lives of so many people especially black women, business has been quite disturbingly silent on this issues,” said Lindelwa Nxumalo, from the group Call For Action.
South Africa’s numbers on gender-based violence are staggering. On Thursday, the Police Ministry told Parliament that sexual abuse cases rose by more than 4% in the year ending March. However, there have been many more cases reported since then.
Protestors are demanding money from corporate South Africa to help fund initiatives aimed at stopping GBV. Some people are holding up placards calling for a 2% levy.
One woman said that corporate South Africa had been silent on GBV.
“We are a very patriarchal society and everyone takes gender-based violence lightly,” she said.
Another woman, who is disabled, said she hoped her presence would bring about change regarding the treatment of women and children living with disabilities.
“I’m here to show the world that we are here and as women with disabilities we are tired of gender-based violence,” she said.
MEN TAKE A STAND
South African men who’ve joined the demonstration in Sandton said that the cries of women had been ignored for far too long.
“I don’t think I can understand the fullness of this from a woman’s perspective, but I think I can still lend my hand in support,” said one man.
Another man said: “When there are issues in society and we want to be part of that society, we have a moral obligation to do our very best to combat those issues.”
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