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South African union vows to step up action against gender based violence

VIOLENCE against women and children in South Africa is “a crisis tearing society apart,” a leading public-sector union warned today.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) said it was “angered and saddened” by a recent increase in sex-based violence, femicide, rape and violence directed at women and children.

Demonstrations against the violence took place today at the start of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. Protesters broke through a police cordon to enter the venue while police responded to mass protests outside with the use of water cannon and stun grenades.

NEHAWU said of the recent gender-based violence: “This is a crisis that is tearing our society apart and affects every community in the country.

“The recent spate of violence directed at women should prompt all of us, especially young women, to deepen the mobilisation of the rural poor, working-class women, women workers and women in other sectors of society and play a critical role in building a movement that will intensify the fight against the exploitation of women in any form in all centres of society.”

Recent rapes and murders have shocked South African society and its diaspora. Last weekend 14-year-old Janika Mallo was raped and bludgeoned to death in Cape Town while South African women’s boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” was shot dead by her boyfriend in East London.

“South Africans of all races, gender and class must unite to fight the scourge of patriarchy and gender inequalities,” the union said, asserting that it was “repulsive” that “women continue to be victims of unfair labour practices … rape, unpaid reproductive work and exploitative practices.”

NEHAWU said it would continue the struggle for a non-sexist society and vowed to intensify its work.

“We call on society at large to join hands in fighting all forms of violence directed at women and all forms of abuse,” it said.


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