Women from informal settlements break the silence around GBV

Sizwe Sibiya

Women from informal settlements in Durban and surrounding areas did a 6pm Saturday until 6am Sunday protest to address the gender-based violence (GBV) issue.

Leader of the Woman Can Do It campaign, Nomusa Sizani from Ekukhanyeni squatter camp, said gender-based violence has increased drastically in their communities. She said they saw a need to do a six-to-six night camp in Durban Central during the 16 Days of Activism.

“We chose to come here as mothers because we see the spike in GBV related cases especially during the lockdown. Women have become punching bags,” said Sizani.

“People will tell you they got tired of looking at each other in their one or two room shack. Some were men who were always angry because there was no alcohol. Every problem resulted in abusing their families.”

Sizani is also the National Secretary for Abahlali BaseMjondolo, the shack dwellers Organisation.

Chairperson of Abahlali BaseMjondolo, Zanele Mtshali from Lindelani township, said even though GBV was not part of their mandate, they saw the need to have these discussions among themselves. So they can get to an effective solution for informal settlers.

“Last year we had a similar event but it was held during the day and many women left without voicing their opinions. This time we wanted to cover everything because we also had victims with us today,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the youth, 28-year-old Thandazile Cele also from Lindelani said they no longer feel safe in the townships and they even feared for their relatives.

“From the time we are small children, we are taught a woman has a lesser voice than a man. While we were growing up, women were abused and couldn’t talk to anyone about it,” said Cele.

“Even the people we live with target us. We can’t walk on the street because we fear that we can get raped at any time. Now that we are grown up we want to break the silence.”