Learners stand firm against violence

2019-09-10 06:01
Learners at Bergvliet High School form a human chain of unity down Firgrove Way.

Learners at Bergvliet High School form a human chain of unity down Firgrove Way.

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Dressed in black, learners, teachers and parents from Bergvliet High School linked arms and stood as one on Wednesday 4 September.

The chain of unity, which ran all the way down Firgrove Way, was organised by Woman-Up, a society started at the school earlier this year to empower the young girls of the school and to help them grow their self-love and community love.

Inge van Wyk, a teacher at the school and founder of the society, says the girls needed a “home-base” where they could feel safe to speak up.

The decision to stage a peaceful protest was made after the Woman-Up’s WhatsApp group blew up on Monday 2 September.

Van Wyk says so many girls were outraged at the violent murder of so many women recently, especially the death of the UCT student, Uyinene Mrwetyana.

“The society’s committee decided we should call an emergency meeting because we could not stay silent any longer. We met during first break the next day and before we knew it everything was organised for Wednesday.”

Van Wyk says the entire school jumped on board. “It was really powerful to witness such unity and support. We never dreamt that so many people would join us. We only alerted our school’s security we would be leaving the school grounds to form the chain.

“However, so many people heard about the protest and shared it on community groups. When we stepped outside, police officers and security staff were already waiting. Even parents came and joined the chain. They supported us all the way.”

According to Van Wyk, many of the girls at the school come from communities where violent behaviour towards women is a daily occurrence. She says protest like these will help the youth to know that they do have a voice and that if they stand as one and stand firm they can make a difference.

Learners who participated agreed that the event had taught them powerful lessons.

“Today I saw weakness in the people in power and power in the potential and future of our school,” said Nicole, a Grade 8 learner. Aimee in Grade 9 said they were united as one. “We weren’t causing violence, but awareness.”

Dylan in Grade 11 said it was overwhelming. “There were seven of us that were linked together, boys and girls, and we were all crying together.”

At the end of the event, Van Wyk told the crowd how, in 1956, women protested against the “dompas”. The pass law that restricted their freedom.

“Today, in 2019, women carry an invisible pass – the fear instilled in us by rapists and murderers. It restricts our movements and robs us of our freedom.”

She went on to say that the new generation needs to stand up against violence against women. “We should say to the government, ‘enough is enough,’ and show all rapists, murderers and sexual predators they are not welcome here,” said Van Wyk.

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