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Afrique du sud : The Lives of Women & Girls Are Not Respected

Abahlali baseMjondolo Women’s League Press Statement

D 1er juillet 2020     H 06:30     A Abahlali     C 0 messages

If you are poor your life counts for nothing to this society and this government. You can be abused and killed with impunity. Often it is the government that will come to vandalise your humanity.

Poverty, starvation and humiliation are terrible diseases for all impoverished people in on our so-called democracy. The situation is even worse for women and girls. We are subject to constant abuse by the government and men in our own communities. Our motherly is not respected.

Like all other women we have been shocked by the recent attacks on women in our country. This thing is very painful. It is so painful that again and again women are beaten, raped and killed by the men who they have trusted and who are close to them. We grieve for Anene Booysen, Uyinene Mrwetyana, Sumaya Hoosen, Tshegofatso Pule and so many other women who have been murdered. We grieve for Nqobile Nzuza, Thuli Ndlovu, Robyn Montsumi and all the other women killed by the police, the anti-eviction units and the gangster politicians.

The ANC led government has failed us as women of this country. It is only concerned about supporting the politicians and the capitalists to become richer and richer. It is not concerned about making the country safe for women and girls. The police are there to protect the interests of the politicians and the capitalists and not for the protection of the women and girls in our country.

We as women living in shacks are suffering because of the way we live with families of children and a father in one room. We have no electricity and no water and our homes can be destroyed by the government at any time. We are also robbed and raped in our houses. Not all communities have been able to build and run crèches and crèches are also destroyed in evictions. When there are no community built and run crèches we really worry about our children when we are at work.

During this time of lockdown women who are being attacked in their homes have had nowhere to run to. When there is violence in the home we cannot ask for the movement to intervene in the way that we used to because travel and meetings are impossible under the lockdown. We are plagued by worrying about the men who are killing us, beating us and sexually abusing us and our children.

Our whole existence is difficult for us as mothers. We are not seen as human beings. We are not seen as people who belong. Nobody wants to help and take care of us when they know where we stay. If we go to the police they chase us away. If we go the councillor they won’t help us. If we go to the reporters they don’t listen to us. All we have is each other and our movement, which is built on the strength of women in movement, of mothers in movement.

For centuries women have worked for men and children. We have been cleaning, washing, ironing, and bringing up babies. When our fathers got sick in the mine and came home coughing like trains our mothers had to take care of them. We were never paid for this work. We were never even recognised for this work, work that the whole country depends on.

In our political education discussions we have talked about how racial capitalism in South Africa has always depended on the work of black women, but that our work is not paid or recognised leaving us exhausted and poor.

Women were in the forefront of the struggles against colonialism and apartheid. Women like Dorothy Nyembe and Florence Mkhize are recognised for their work in the struggle. But when we struggle for land, homes and dignity we are treated as criminals by the same government that celebrates people like Dorothy Nyembe and Florence Mkhize who struggled for the same things that we do.

We are tired of living in fear. We cannot be vulnerable anymore. Enough is enough. It is time for us to take action, together. We need all progressive forces to have serious discussions on how to deal with the crisis of violence against women and girls.

We have knocked on all the doors that we were told to knock on. They have chased us away, ignored us or abused us. Councillors and police officers are also abusers. It seems like we are on our own as women. If we don’t support each other we will perish. Building women’s power in struggle is the only way forward.

We are inviting all women in South Africa to come together to say enough, to say that the beating, murder and sexual abuse of women and girls must be stopped. As the Abahlali Women’s League we pledge to work together for a society where we live in peace and harmony with each other, irrespective of age and gender. It is the responsibility of all members of Abahlali to join the struggle to ensure that women are respected as equals everywhere, in homes, communities, workplaces and on the streets.