“You strike a woman you strike a rock!”
On that fateful day in 2016 when young Franziska Blöchliger decided to go for a run in Tokai Forest there was no ribbon corner. She had no idea that she wouldn’t return home that day. This symbolic corner only emerged as a result of the horror felt by the Tokai Forest users about the crime against Franziska.
Quite quickly the corner became a symbol of solidary against all crimes against women.
Violence against women and girls is defined as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and girls, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.UN Definition of crimes against women
As such then – It includes forced marriage, dowry-related violence, marital rape, sexual harassment, intimidation at work and in educational institutions, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization, trafficking and forced prostitution.
Women’s Day, the public holiday, marked every year on August 9 in South Africa, commemorates a historic protest against unjust laws under the then-apartheid regime.
On the 9th of August in 1956, 20,000 women marched onto the union buildings in Pretoria, singing, ‘Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo!’ ‘You strike a woman, you strike a rock,'”
Much has changed in the 60 years since that historic walk, and yet GBV (gender-based violence) still occurs in South Africa at alarming rates. In fact, at rates so high that our current President Cyril Ramaphosa felt compelled to suggest that it is another pandemic.
Clearly, there is much more to be done to change this script of aggression towards women in South Africa.
As the first educators of baby boys, mothers hold a crucial role in shaping boys into men who respect women, who understand that “no” means “no” and who will stand up against any mistreatment.
On Women’s Day this year the Thula Baba Project team joined Nikki Smit of Parkscapes to tie more ribbons to the ribbon corner. In the hour or so that we were there – tying ribbons and networking – the surgeon Dr Kurt Goldberg was the only man who came and joined us in tying a couple of ribbons before heading off to walk his dogs.
It is our belief at Thula Baba Project that, equipped with support, skills and tools mothers can reshape the future by raising young men who know how to love and respect women.
You have the opportunity to contribute to this cause by becoming part of our Club67 programme: www.thulababaproject.co.za/join-club67