People’s Pride rejects 16 Days of Activism campaign


“Ultra-conservative”: Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu

The group behind next weekend’s LGBTI People’s Pride march has rejected the South African government’s 16 Days of Activism campaign.

The campaign aims to eradicate violence against women and children, but the Joburg People’s Pride Movement (JPP) said that the annual effort is nothing more than a “PR exercise” that should be replaced with “365 Days of No Violence against ALL bodies, NOW!” campaign.

In a statement on Monday, the group insisted that fifteen years after the government campaign’s launch, the violence has not abated and has in many ways worsened.

It blamed this violence on “white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.”

JPP argued that there has been “a regression into ultra-conservativism from the ministers right down to the state officials tasked with not only protecting us from violence, but preventing it.”

The group noted, with “shock and amazement,” comments by the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Susan Shabangu, earlier this month at a meeting to announce plans for the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

According to a number of women’s rights groups, Shabangu said: “Men are supposed to be protectors of society. Men are supposed to be protectors of families. We need to bring back these protectors of society. We need to mobilise our protectors.”

At the same event, the minister introduced and endorsed speakers who stated that women should be submissive to their husbands, that feminism is “un-African” and that the abuse of women and children should only be dealt with in the home and not through institutions.

“We do not want men to protect us from violence, minister. We want to be free from violence against these men who beat, rape and kill us in our homes,” said JPP.

“We are tired of waiting for an annual sixteen-day period, to hear the same platitudes in the grandest PR exercise our government undertakes every year. We say Minister Shabangu, take back your 16 Days because we don’t want it.”

The group demanded that the minister disavow the recent statements made in her name and that the government immediately decriminalise sex-work and undertake “sustained radical action to accompany the grand-statements made by government and state officials during the 16 Days of Activism period.”

With a socialist perspective, People’s Pride was launched last year as a radical alternative to Johannesburg Pride. It takes a more direct and political approach; linking LGBTI equality to other struggles for equal rights.

The second People’s Pride March kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, 29 November at Constitution Hill.

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