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Media Statement: SAHRC commemorates Women’s Day by calling for the realisation of equality rights

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Tuesday, 09 August 2022

09 August 2022 marks 66 years since the 1956 march that saw about 20 000 women descend on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the introduction of an apartheid pass law which was aimed at restricting black women’s movement in urban areas. The heroic act of defiance led by struggle icons such as Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams saw scores of women from across the country converge at the Union Buildings to deliver a petition containing more than 100,000 signatures calling for the end of this unjust act.

As the country commemorates Women’s Day 2022 today, the South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) joins the rest of the world in paying tribute to this act of bravery and solidarity.

However, as the Commission commemorates this day, it takes into cognizance the many challenges that continue to dilute the solidarity and gains of the 1956 defiance.

Rightfully so, the month of August is dedicated to women. However, escalating levels of gender-based violence and inequality show that a month is not enough to address these challenges that continue to harass women in our society.

The recently released statistics from the South African Police Service reveal that out of the 6 083 people killed in the country between January and March 2022, 898 of them were women. Murder, attempted murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm of women all recorded double-digit increases. In the first three months of 2022, 10 818 people were raped in South Africa. Almost half of the cases, a staggering 4 653 rapes, took place at the home of the rape victim or the home of the rapist. Public parks, beaches, streets, open fields, parking areas and abandoned buildings were recorded as spaces where rapes occurred or were likely to occur.

Kidnappings have also increased in South Africa and this has a direct impact on women especially those travelling alone at night. In the decade from 2010, kidnapping more than doubled in South Africa and there are now 10 kidnappings per 100,000 people, according to the South African think-tank, the Institute for Security Studies.

The issues reflected above indicate that an increasing number of rights of women, especially the right to freedom of movement and the right to be safe in the home, are being curtailed and violated. This raises the need for urgent intervention and reflection by Government, civil society, private sector and community at large to bring about sustainable safety especially for women. A safe society is a free society, where all people can flourish.

The Commission is calling on society to commemorate this year’s Women’s Day by not just hosting and attending events to remember the heroics of the 1956 women but also to seek tangible solutions aimed at addressing current challenges of inequality and gender-based violence which continue to rise at an alarming pace. Opening more employment opportunities, addressing the gender-pay gap, gender-based violence and femicide in particular are some of the immediate steps we can all take to protect women and advance our society.



Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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Understanding PAIA

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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