Thousands of men took part in the 100 Men March from Church Square to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday. Their cause? Saying “No more!” to violence against women and children.
Hosted by the government and supported by many industries, the aim was a call to action asking men to play an active role bringing gender based violence (GBV) to an end.
It also was a celebration of the centenaries of the late Mama Albertina Sisulu and Tata Nelson Mandela, both of whom were advocates for the rights of women and children.
At the demonstration were the likes of Mara Louw, Bheki Cele, the Blue Bulls and various religious leaders.
GBV has received more media attention recently thanks to international movements such as #MeToo, which has helped build more conversation around this societal issue. However, it is a naturally emotion jerking conversation. More often than not, that emotion is or leads to anger.
Social activist group, Not In My Name, boycotted the march when they heard Arthur Mafokate, who had recently being accused of abuse, had been invited to the march.
The ANC defended Mafokate saying he was a member of the party and would remain innocent unless the law found him guilty.
Surrounded by 100 trainee police officers, the procession gained momentum along the way. They were not the only ones in uniform as other workers joined the demonstration.
A pledge was available to be signed:
My pledge to end violence against women and children
Change begins with me, and I can motivate others to end violence against women and children.
I pledge to help break the culture of silence that accompanies violence and abuse.
I pledge not to commit violence and to act when I see violence against women and children.
I pledge to teach those in my care the values of human dignity, equality and respect.
Although the march was not massive, the act of solidarity amongst these men is a great step towards conquering GBV in our country. We hope that the gentlemen, young and old, who signed this pledge will keep their word.