am a feminist, a WITS Professor, a member of the African feminist and
global feminist movements, and a member of the 1in9 Campaign, a
feminist campaign – now organization – started to provide support
to the woman we call Khwezi, who laid a charge of rape against the
man who is now President Zuma, 1in9, an organization which supports
other survivors of sexualized violence.
believed Khwezi in 2006. I STILL believe her.
am rising today in rage, and I am dancing today in love,
metaphorically holding hands with billions of women rising in all
parts of the world today to say ENOUGH. All
gender based violence is brutality. ALL of it. ALL the time. It is
always an act of war. I
am rising today to say: ENOUGH.
is time to render violence against women illegitimate on our campus.
It is time to stop these acts of war on women’s bodies and psyches.
It is time to STOP giving airplay to the excuses that make gender
based violence seem harmless, excuses that allow it to stay
RAPE and other violence against women by stopping with the excuses.
keep gender based violence: violence against women, girls, boys,
gender non-conforming people, queers of all hues in place; •
allow brutal men to violate others with impunity – on this campus,
in this city, in this province and country, and across the world; •
enable rape culture, slut shaming, intimate femicide, sexual
harassment, sexual trafficking, the forced marriage of girls to men
old enough to be their grandfathers; •
say it is fine to blame and punish a survivor for the short skirt she
wears, fine to excuse the male professor who sexually harasses his
students and colleagues, overly sexualizing them, making
inappropriate comments that the woman student is obliged to think of
as compliments to stay alive; •
say the white misogynist institutional culture of South African HE
institutions is the excellence we should all aspire to. Excuses
provides an alibi for systemic violence epistemically, materially,
emotionally, financially; •
say violence against Black women is part of generalized Black
violence and that brutal men cannot be called the monsters they are
when they rape, beat the crap out of their partners and make excuses.
ALL men no matter what class, race or religion have patriarchal power
and can choose to brutalise and get away with it. •
say only working class Black men are violent and white women and
gender non-conforming people don’t have to deal with this from
middle and upper class, educated, white men; •
make violence against women possible – they are part of a
complicated network that say women are not human, so our pain is
generalized, unimportant; •
are the permission we slowly give for violent men to keep women and
gender non-conforming people hostage on this campus, in this city, in
this country, across the world.
excuses. When we make excuses, we become perpetrators – we become
rise today because the day has come for the women of the world to
redefine what justice means – it is not politician’s speeches, it
is not non-sexism at the bottom of stationery, for many of us, it is
not in the legal justice system.
rise today with my sisters of all classes, sexual orientations and
nationalities across the world to say we – the majority of the
world’s people – are the face of survivors and victims. There is
no mystery. The survivors of gendered violence walk the streets all
day everywhere, sit next to you in class, are the people you are busy
falling in love with, are your sisters, best friend, lover, mother,
daughter, your teacher.
rise in solidarity with all survivors, victims and those who will be
brutalized by gender based violence again. I rise and dance to
counter the isolation that gender based violence breeds, to counter
the shame, to refuse to shoulder the blame and to put an end to the
rise to say our bodies are ours and we matter, whether we survive
like most of those wounded and walking the planet, or like Nandi
Mbizane, taken from her home, who still cannot be found, or
like Anene Booysen we could not survive, or like Khwezi we cannot
rise because a billion women rising at WITS and campuses across the
world, in Kenya, Bangladesh, Ghana, Malaysia, Venezuela and
everywhere else can change the world. I rise because in the 7 minutes
I have been speaking to you, 16 women have been raped in SA, and many
more women in every country in the world. In SA 1in 2 women will be
raped at least once in her lifetime. Both will be sexually harassed
on a regular basis and may be beaten on top of that.
rise because it is time for rage. I rise because it is time for
rise because it is time for love – for myself, for the many women,
gender non-conforming people, children who walk with the silent
torment that survivors know too well. I rise because my body is mine,
all our bodies belong to us and are not just battlegrounds. I rise
because I love women and because I choose women. I rise because
feminism is the movement that taught me to dance. And because I know
that movement CAN, WILL, MUST end this brutality.
WILL redefine justice when we continue to rise and rise and rise and
dance in our own name, in our self-defense and in self-love. The time
has come – for love and rage, love for ourselves and rage at the
unmarked monsters that brutalize women everywhere.