By Kelebogile Mpshe & Sarah Botha
Pic: Sophie Marcus
The “Women in South Africa” week aimed to bring attention to gender issues embedded in political and judicial systems within South Africa. The week’s events took place all over campus in areas such as the library quad, Eden Grove and the Drostdy lawns. The Gender Action Project (GAP) is a feminist socialist group consisting of women who vary in their approach to feminism. Nicolene Mclean, founder and chairperson of GAP, explains that “Feminism isn’t the scary word that everyone thinks it is. It’s the belief that women are human.”
The week was higlighted by the “Take Back the Night” march, organised by GAP, which was centred on reclaiming back the streets for women. With the increase of rapes in the past week, many people, as well as GAP, felt that it was time to take a stand to bring attention to this issue.
The march took place on Friday, 17 October 2008. It was well-attended, causing an excited atmosphere. Participants stood with lit candles and the march began with a cry in unison: “The night belongs to us!” The march was accompanied by several police officers as the group moved down High Street singing songs and chanting “Amandla” with great enthusiasm. The march ended back on the Drostdy lawns, where the participants ended the march with an evening picnic.Tinotenda Sachikonye, a Pharmacy Masters Student said, “I believe that of all crimes, rape is the most inhumane.” Terri-Maree Rens, second year BA student echoed this sentiment, “It’s sad that we need to have a march in order to get attention drawn to this issue.”
GAP eventually aims to help women facing rape trials in Grahamstown. Next year, GAP plans to protest outside court once a month to draw attention to these cases.