Thousands of women and “gender non-conformists” are expected to lead 19 marches in South Africa, as the country inaugurates Women’s Month, demanding government action against abuse.
The intersectional women’s march against gender-based violence is part of a wider movement, known as the #TotalShutdown movement, which is seeking to change the country’s policies regarding violence against women.
Protesters will march to union buildings in the country’s main cities and across all of South Africa’s provinces.
Organisers of the march plan to hand over a memorandum of 24 key demands to the president at the union buildings, the speaker of parliament in Cape Town, and to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein.
The list calls for a higher level of protection for victims of gender-based violence.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Lesley Ncube, spokeswoman of the #TotalShutdown movement, said that the high number of women exposed to rape and sexual violence in the country can be attributed to the emotional trauma that people have carried over from the apartheid government.
“We hadn’t done any reconciliation in terms of emotional and psychological trauma of people … We live in a highly toxic, patriarchal society where men feel entitled to our (female) bodies,” Ncube said from Pretoria in advance of the march.
“It’s toxic masculinity that breeds this violence within our communities,” she said.
The 24 demands represent the 24 years of post-democratic South Africa, Ncube noted. A key demand is requiring the president to commit to a “day and time”, where organisers, stakeholders, and state officials could meet to establish a “practical and efficient plan” to eradicate gender-based violence.
In 2016, students protested in several universities across the country, igniting a social media campaign that called for justice for women who were raped or killed.
Reporting from Johannesburg, Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, said South Africa has some of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world.
According to activists, only one out of 10 rape cases results in a conviction, Webb reported.