South Africa has always been a nation that is run by its people; we protest, we shout, we demand for change and recently we have become complacent. However, various groups across South Africa have protested and brought attention to the tragic issue of gender-based violence. I had the opportunity to speak with Tersia Erasmus, one of the members who made the Justice for Women March in Durban happen, and this is what she had to say.
“We are just a group of female friends who were extremely pained by the recent shows of violence against women. We were just casually talking about how it made all of us feel and my friend Jessica Smeeton said we had to do something and came up with the idea for a march. We’re hoping it creates awareness of violence against women and the lack of justice for them. Hopefully it also lets all the women know they are not alone. I don’t think there’s ever been a greater need for females to stick together and stand up for themselves. We’re so desperate for men and the government to realize how scared we are on a day-to-day basis and that every time we walk out the door, we have to think ‘am I next?’”
Tersia, Jessica and her friends are wonderful examples of how easily change can be initiated. These women and every person who took the initiative to make a difference after being pushed too far by South Africa’s gender-based violence, reminded me of this quote by Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Not every person who is moved by these stories is able to start marches or attend protests, but every person should have discussions about how important issues such as gender-based violence are. Talk to women in solidarity and talk to men so they may learn. Call out and stop desensitizing abuse and sexism through rape jokes.
Walking alongside the people of Durban, I felt the desperation for there to be an end to gender-based violence. I heard the voices screaming for change and I saw the faces of South Africans who were demanding a better society for all.
Featured images by Livanya Gramoney