Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1056/29593

From The Socialist newspaper, 18 September 2019

Violence against women in South Africa: how should organised workers respond?

Fighting for women's rights in South Africa, photo by Marxist Workers Party (CWI South Africa)

Fighting for women's rights in South Africa, photo by Marxist Workers Party (CWI South Africa)   (Click to enlarge)

Marxist Workers Party members South Africa

The rape and murder of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was the final spark that lit a new wave of protests demanding an end to violence against women.

She was killed by a Post Office employee who, alongside 300 others, failed a vetting process because of their criminal records.

He had a previous rape charge but the case had been withdrawn. However Post Office employers sat on the report for more than a year and Uyinene's killer used his position to identify and target her.

Uyinene's murder followed a slew of reports of murdered women. In 2016, out of every 100,000 women and girls in South Africa, 12.5 were violently killed.

This was five times the global average of 2.6. In 2017-18, this increased to 15.2 - 2,930 murdered women; the slain bodies of an additional 291 women and 29 girls.

A mass memorial for Uyinene at the University of Cape Town, on 4 September, showed the depth of feeling and anger among women and young people.

Memorials and vigils took place on other campuses and solidarity marches in other cities and towns.

On 5 September, more than ten thousand protested outside parliament in Cape Town, demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa come out and tell them what his government planned to do to stop gender based violence.

While men are five times more likely than women to be murdered, itself a social crisis, it is the fact that so many women are being murdered by men who feel entitled to control and possess women, treating them like personal property, that has led to the outpouring of anger.

Gender inequality is rooted in class inequality and emerged with class society.

Under capitalism, women are frequently paid less than men, concentrated in low-paid sectors such as cleaning and retail and precariously or casually employed by contractors or as domestic workers.

Women are also most likely to be the main carers for children and the elderly and perform the majority of domestic work in the home.

The foundation of capitalist economy in commodity production - where everything is for sale - commodifies women's bodies, turns them into objects and encourages the idea that women only exist for the entertainment and pleasure of men.

The social conditions of capitalism are a breeding ground for the sexist attitudes that justify the many forms of violence against women - rape, assault, domestic violence, 'cat-calling' etc.

Strategy

Protests have been mobilised under the banners #AmINext, #TheTotalShutdown and others. Young people and students have played a central role.

Significantly, protests are being called using appeals to working-class methods of mass struggle, eg shutdowns and stay-aways.

This points the emerging movement in the right direction. However, at this stage, this language is symbolic, and not based on a conscious strategy to mobilise the working class.

#TotalShutdown's 2018 call for women to stayaway from work was not linked to appeals to workers and their trade unions for the mobilisation and shutdown of workplaces, ie united strike action.

One of the main demands of protesters outside parliament was for the government to declare a state of emergency.

While this was a demand for a gesture from the government that it 'gets it', it was nevertheless incorrect.

It would be suicidal for the movement to support increasing the repressive powers of this ANC government and the state in general.

Outside the recently held World Social Forum, protesters against gender based violence were attacked by police with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

The last time a state of emergency was declared was in the 1980s by the white-minority regime, used to suppress the mass movement against apartheid.

At this stage it is the middle class, especially the NGOs, which are setting the ideological tone of the movement against gender-based violence.

They look to work with big business, the capitalist politicians and the state. Protests are to pressure them but not to challenge their control of society and the unequal capitalist class structure they defend.

In the Marxist Workers Party we argue that the many women and young people radicalised by the struggle against gender oppression and gender based violence should rather look towards a united movement of the working class.

It is only the working class which has the power to fundamentally transform society, abolishing capitalism and the class inequalities that gender oppression is rooted in.

Workplace role

In June, mine workers at the LanXess chrome mine in Rustenburg - members of the Numsa union - organised a strike and occupation in protest against the sexual harassment of a woman mineworker. Her manager was demanding sexual favours in exchange for a permanent job.

This has set a shining example for how workers can take up the issue of harassment and violence against women. Workers have the power to force the removal of perpetrators from the workplace.

But crucially, because of their position in the economy, workers have the power to improve the position of women in society more generally.

Every workplace demand and struggle for equal pay, higher pay, against gender discrimination in promotion and job opportunities, for housing allowances, transport allowances and longer paternal leave, increases the independence and choices available to women.

Wider working-class movements on healthcare, housing, social services, childcare and schooling do likewise.

A mass working-class movement can lay the real social foundations upon which gender equality can be built.

The struggle for women's liberation is part of the class struggle and needs to be re-written on the banner of the workers movement.

A workers' programme to end gender-based violence

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 18 September 2019:


What we think

Ditch the Tories - and austerity

Trade union movement must put its stamp on swirling events


Climate change

Climate protests: which way forward after 20 September?

Climate change: what's socialism got to do with it?


Socialist Students

How students can fight and win


Socialist Party feature

Northern Ireland: Campaign mounts over historic sexual abuse allegations cover-up


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS general secretary candidate: unions must mobilise to drive out Boris

Strike back to stop bullying Royal Mail bosses

Lincolnshire health visitors strike boost

DVSA strike - employer asks for talks

Nottingham College UCU - more strike action planned

PCS members at BEIS maintain just fightback

Ilford: strike forces school management to back down


International socialist news and analysis

Violence against women in South Africa


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

South Yorkshire defeats fire cuts

Donate to help us move our press by October

March planned to save Bewdley Fire Station

London: packed public meeting discusses political crisis

Selling the Socialist


Opinion

Peterloo - fighting for democracy and a better life

The Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 18 September 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

South Africa:

triangleSouth Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleSouth Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: How apartheid was overthrown in South Africa

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: How apartheid was overthrown in South Africa

Women:

triangleShocking increase in domestic violence killings

triangleLockdown increases domestic violence calls - Tory money a drop in the ocean

triangleCoronavirus and domestic violence: a double threat to women's lives

triangleChildcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Violence against women:

triangleWeinstein found guilty

triangleInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The fight against low pay

Africa:

triangleThe 45th anniversary of the strike

triangleRevolution and counter-revolution in Sudan

International

International

27/5/20

Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

27/5/20

Lebanon

Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

20/5/20

US

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race

6/5/20

India

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

6/5/20

Trump

Trump puts profit before safety (again)

6/5/20

US

US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide

29/4/20

May Day

A CWI May Day 2020 statement

29/4/20

Ireland

Irish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

22/4/20

USA

US private healthcare system in meltdown

14/4/20

Coronavirus

Rapacious capitalism and the spread of coronavirus

8/4/20

CWI

Coronavirus, capitalism and fighting for socialism worldwide

8/4/20

Amazon

Amazon workers threaten revolution!

18/3/20

France

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

18/3/20

Coronavirus

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

18/3/20

Coronavirus

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999