By Gadi Malatsi
The rights of women and children constitute fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
To this cause, COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union federation organised a National Day of Action on 27 November 2018, to protest against the ongoing violence directed at women and children – two days after the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism for “No Violence against Women and Children.” This worldwide campaign is an annual event, starting on 25 November; ending 10 December.
While the Labour Federation acknowledges that South Africa has much to celebrate about – given the role played by women today in the social, economic, cultural and political sphere – much still leaves to be desired, as there is still a scourge of women oppression and the demon of patriarchy that women still contend with.
The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is “End Gender-based Violence in the World of Work.’’ Thus, COSATU’s protest action couldn’t have happened at a better time.
The peaceful picket, which was attended by many of those associated with the Federation at the head office, as well as tenants (at COSATU House and COSATU’s national office bearers) started at the corner of Simmonds and Jorissen streets, where picketers held placards, motioning motorists to hoot in show of solidarity, before they could be allowed to pass. No insults and name calling took place, and motorists obliged, with some raising fists (“Amandla!”, “Viva’’!). The picketing culminated at the Parktonian Hotel in Juta street.
In addition to protesting against violence against women and children the picketers demanded that:
• companies provide safe, reliable and subsidised transport for early and late working hours;
• policies on sexual harassment and gender-based violence be put in place in all workplaces;
• perpetrators of violence should not kill and rape vulnerable women and children, but should instead, form part of the solution;
• people stop using drugs and alcohol (“Get High on Life and not Drugs”); and that
• an integrated gender responsive approach on ending GBV and sexual harassment be put in place.
Zingiswa Losi, the President of COSATU was also among the picketers – staff and tenants at COSATU House posed for photos with her.
The province’s (Gauteng) protest took place on 28 November.