Ilitha Labantu holds their annual Take Back the Night march

Young and old were part of the Ilitha Labantu Take Back the Night march against gender based violence.

Young and old marched in Gugulethu last week, calling for an end to violence against women and children.

The marchers wore the yellow T-shirts of women’s rights group Ilitha Labantu and denounced gender-based violence. Under the theme, “Take Back the Night Reclaiming Our Streets”, the march began at 6pm, last Friday, ending at the Gugulethu Sports Complex.

Founder of Ilitha Labantu, Mandisa Monakali, said activism was needed daily not just during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign. While a new strategy was needed to intensify the fight against the abuse and killing of women and children, she said campaigns such as 16 Days were important to raise awareness and get men to change their behaviour.

Ms Monakali said cases of sexual violence increased over the festive season and she urged women to be sensitive to their surroundings.

Marches like the one in Gugulethu, she said, encouraged people to speak up about sexual violence.

“People do report gender-based violence unlike before. In the past, people were very scared to talk about such issues. It was a taboo to talk about gender-based violence in the past.

“The issue of women abuse in Gugulethu is very high and people must stand up because this is not only about Ilitha Labantu.

“Violence against women affects everyone, and there is no excuse for anyone to rape and abuse someone. There is absolutely no excuse for that,” she said.

Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform ,Mcebisi Skwatsha, was part of the march, and he said everyone needed to play their part to end violence against women and children. Men were meant to protect and provide for their families, not victimise and abuse them, he said.

Men should “clean up their act” and show boys what it meant to be a real man. Nozipho Mawethu, a 53-year-old mother of four, said she had joined the march to make a difference and encourage victims of violence to speak up.

Ms Mawethu said her father had abused her mother, but her mother had never spoken about it because in the old days the subject had been considered taboo.

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