LHR supports #TheTotalShutDown

Date: 01/08/2018

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) supports #TheTotalShutDown, the national intersectional womxn’s march against gender based violence. All LHR women and LGBTQ staff will stay away from work on the 1st of August 2018, and participate in marches in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Durban, Upington, and Cape Town.


In the course of its programmatic work, LHR encounters countless victims of gender-based violence on a daily basis, and it is clear to us as lawyers that work to protect and promote human rights of all people living in South Africa, that our government is failing the most vulnerable groups in our society. Our laws against violence and discrimination may appear progressive, but this is meaningless when those laws are not implemented by the state with the necessary accountability and resources. It is meaningless when the majority of South African do not have access to justice, and abusers are permitted to stay in political and state leadership structures.

Sharon Ekambaram, manager of the LHR Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme said, “Who is the government failing? Working with the most vulnerable in what is still the most unequal society in the world, it is black African working class women that continue to be the most oppressed and exploited.  Gender based violence affects the poorest amongst us the worst. Human Rights and respect for human dignity enshrined in our Constitution is not worth the paper it is written on if the daily experience of poor black women is one of degradation and contempt.”

Michael Clements, manager of the LHR Environmental Rights Programme, agrees. She said, “And it’s not just government – big business, such as the mining sector, must be held accountable for their impact on communities. Women must be at the centre of economic development, as research has shown over and over that economically empowering women specifically, pays off for whole families, and communities.”

“As we celebrate women’s month and continue to advocate for prevention of gender violence and discrimination against women, it is important to know there is a growing need to promote access to land for women particularly in rural areas as 69% of women in rural areas are living in poverty and their tenure security is insecure as it is estimated that 14% of the households to whom land has been transferred to through the restitution process has gone to female headed households,” said Louise du Plessis, manager of the LHR Land and Housing Programme.

“Let the whole country feel the anger, and the value of women all over South Africa today, as we down tools, leave our homes and workplaces, and take to the streets. Women in South Africa, in all our diversity, are tired of flowery words and token events during Women’s Month. LHR rejects this “tick box” approach to violence. We want to see actions with proven impact, not just outputs. We want systems accountability, and real financial investment by our government in what matters to women, and what benefits women,” said Sanja Bornman of the Gender Equality Programme.


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