Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Metro police would rather police women’s sexuality than men’s violence

According to their Facebook Page “V-Girls is a global movement of girl activists inspired by I Am an Emotional Creature” — Eve Ensler’s latest collection of monologues for and about girls. The aim of the book, and of the movement is to inspire girls to take agency over their lives, and to encourage them to love that which makes them girls, and to live it with pride.

More than that, the V-Girls movement has a South Africa branch that subscribes to the following important views:

V-Day believes that girls are the future of our movement. Women are the primary resource of our planet. It is imperative to educate and nurture future activists so we can see our vision of a world free from violence against women and girls come true.

When I spoke to Busi Mkhumbuzi — 17-year-old V-Girls Action Leader in SA — she explained that more than just holding to the values of the global movement, V-Girls South Africa has a really important role to play for young women in SA. Linked to the idea that “V-Girls SA is an anti-violence movement which shatters taboos and addresses issues affecting girls in society” they have come together to form ”a network of girl activists and advocates empowering themselves and others to create the change they imagine for the world”.

In order to acknowledge and protest the very high rape statistics in South Africa, which particularly affect young women in SA, V-Girls SA initiated the REFUSER MARCH which was scheduled to take place on October 15 in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The aim of the Refuser March is “to mobilise women and purposefully empower them through the usage of art to revitalise the activism within us all. It will commemorate women who have transitioned from domestic housewives in the 50s, rebels of the 70s and finally our generation … one which V-Girls believes can put an end to domestic violence, especially in the home”.

So I was saddened this morning to receive news from Busi that the march would need to be delayed.

Why? Because the metro police would rather allow a group of men who are known to be violent to march, than allow a march by young women to take place.

Busi explained this morning that the march by hostel inmates through the centre of town could include up to 5 000 people. The metro police have warned the V-Girls that if they did march, there would be possible assaults against them because of “the group’s prejudices about women”. The fact that the girls will all be wearing short skirts was also mentioned as a reason why they would be “risking attack”. The march has now been moved to October 22, and will be following the same route as planned.

Nevertheless, this is a perfect example of what is wrong with SA. Instead of preventing a group that the metro police themselves know “to be violent” from marching because this group will put young women at risk, metro police instead chose to prevent women from exercising their right to peaceful protest. Instead of saying to men “don’t rape” they say to women “don’t put yourself in the way of rapists”. Instead of saying to women “you are not responsible for violence inflicted against you”, they say “do not entice violence”.

With this decision, the metro police have chosen to regulate and restrict women’s freedom instead of men’s violence.

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