Pupils protest against violence

Standing in solidarity with the thousands of people who marched to Parliament last week, Camps Bay High School pupils staged a protest against the spate of violent crimes against women and children.

This was in solidarity with the thousands of people who marched to Parliament against gender-based violence on Thursday September 5.

Last Thursday’s march to the gates of Parliament, where thousands of people gathered, sharing their stories and demanding to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa, was organised in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of 19-year old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana.

A post office employee later confessed to having lured the young woman to Clareinch post office in Claremont where he raped and killed her before dumping her body in Khayelitsha.

As schools and organisations across the city arranged demonstrations to show their solidarity with the victims of crime and add their voice to the call for an end to the violence, Camps Bay High held a special assembly which focused on violence against women and children.

Principal David De Korte said the school had recognised the importance of the conversation around this issue and had sought to do what they could to fight it, including arranging various programmes, workshops, conversations in tutor groups and self defence programmes.

At the special assembly, teacher and school counsellor, Mike Howell, addressed the packed school hall about the matter, reaching out in particular to the young men.

“If as a man you feel more shocked and hurt when seeing the hashtags such as #MenAreTrash than you do when reading stories such as (that of) Uyinene and countless others, then you need to examine your heart and ask yourself why the violence at the hands of men concerns you less than free expression and utter desperation at the levels of violent crime committed by men in this country,” he said.

He went on to say that although he knew that not all men were trash, women had no idea which men were dangerous and which were not and therefore had to treat all of them with caution.

“This is exhausting and unfair on them,” he said.

He said when men’s first response to the notion that men were responsible for violence, was being defensive, they invalidated the feelings of women in the country.

“We need to listen, we need to use our words to speak out against the men committing these crimes,” he said.

Mr Howell said pepper sprays and walking in groups were not the solution.

“The fault doesn’t lie with women. The fault lies with men who commit these violent acts,” he said.

He added that his goal was not to alienate young men but to include them in the conversation about how they could help young girls feel safe and valued.

“It was great to see young men protesting but my challenge to you is what will you do and say through words and actions when these protests have died down?” he said.