South Africa's proud history of protests

South Africa has become a nation defined by its protests.

Protests can and do bring societal problems to public attention, in direct and at times dramatic ways.

But governments the world over are also tempted to suppress this right as they often feel threatened by public challenges to their authority.

READ: Men told to stay away from the #TotalShutDown

Apartheid South Africa had a shameful history of repressing protests.

The architects of the country's democracy expressed a determination to break with this past and recognise protest as a basic democratic right.

Yet, today, there is concern about the violent nature of protests.

To discuss the history of protest in South Africa and to speak about why women around the country are embarking on a national shutdown against gender-based violence, Institute for Security Studies' Lizette Lancaster says one has to recognise what the day represents in terms of the 1956 march of women to the Union Buildings.

This is a very significant day and it shows that after 50 years and more, very few things have changed for women in this country. So for me, it is about ending the violence against women, it is hopefully something that we can build on in the future.

Lizette Lancaster, Crime and justice information hub manager at the Institute for Security Studies

We have seen as gender activists in the field and researchers...that there has been WhatsApps sent around for weeks now about this march. But of course, it is always very difficult to get the message through to the women on the ground.

Lizette Lancaster, Crime and justice information hub manager at the Institute for Security Studies

She adds that South Africa has grown generations of activists which we should be incredibly proud of.

We have been seeing activism that is alive and well throughout democracy and so it is something should be celebrated. And what has been the fundamental change since 1994 is the fact that it is now protected under our constitution, the right to protest.

Lizette Lancaster, Crime and justice information hub manager at the Institute for Security Studies

Listen below to the full interview...


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