Press Release

National Shut Down Against Gender-Based Violence
13 July 2018

Over the past month, women and gender non-conforming (GNC) people across Southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, and across the diaspora have been mobilising to shut their countries down on 1 August 2018 in protest against gender-based violence (GBV).

According to a Statistics SA report, crime against women in South Africa recorded a 53% increase in sexual offenses in 2015/16, and at least 41% of reported rape cases in this country involve children. Africa check confirms that every four hours, a woman is killed in this country. Statistics on the impact of GBV on transgender women and GNC people are near impossible to find. Clearly, this is a national crisis and it surely cannot be business as usual, as GBV affects all women and GNC people regardless of race, class, or creed. We therefore invite all women and GNC people in all sectors of society, including all political parties, to march with us on the 1st of August 2018.

We note the fact that very recently, a long-established Women’s Organization has also begun organising a march envisaged for 1 August 2018. We hereby express our concern that this not be another political ploy to detract from the seriousness of the plight that is GBV, and our hope that this Women’s Organization really carries our interests at heart. We are ordinary women and GNC people, without the backing of a political party, who have mobilised over 100 000 supporters in under four weeks. As such, we deem it suspicious that now that this movement’s actions are gaining traction in the media, the Women’s League in question have also begun mobilising. It cannot be that our lives are reduced to political fodder for political gain whilst women and GNC individuals perish daily.

We thus call upon all women to be unified in their resolve to end GBV and march in their personal capacity as stated above. We will all be dressed in black to mourn and pay our respects to the women, children, and GNC people who have died, and a splash of red to remember how much blood has and continues being spilt as the femicide against our bodies continues.

Police stations have been ineffective in dealing with the scourge of GBV at local levels – in some cases even siding with the perpetrators – and many women and GNC people have died with protection orders. We are not marching to police stations, because we demand systematic change at a higher level of our laws beyond the station commanders. For these reasons, women and GNC people will be handing over a memorandum of demands to the Legislature in Parliament, Cape Town, the Judiciary at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, the Executive at the Union Buildings, and various structures of government across South Africa. These are centres of power that can suspend the stagnant ineffectiveness of linked institutions that ought to protect women, children, and GNC people.

Businesses are requested to support the movement by allowing women and GNC folk to down tools on that day and march with us.

Women and GNC people remain resolute in fighting for the safety of women, GNC people, and children.

Yours in the struggle.
#TheTotalShutdown National Steering Committee

For more information, contact us at:

wosatotalshutdown (at) gmail (dot) com