– Danie Keet. Above: An image from one of the anti-GBV movement’s protests last year at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Facebook.

A vigil against gender-based violence will be held in the Town Hall on Saturday 27 June at 11:30.

The vigil is organised by the anti-gender-based violence organisation of Stellenbosch.

“Through this vigil, we call for debate and immediate action in a country where men desecrate the bodies of our girls and women. With the coronavirus lockdown drastically exacerbating femicide, public outcry is inevitable. We aim to express our outcry during this vigil by creating a memorial site for all victims of gender-based violence in front of the town hall,” Emile Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the group said.

“The memorial is for anyone who has been abused, raped, murdered or, in any way, psychologically devastated because of their gender or sexual preference. Art pieces, flowers, and any physical representation that depicts the atrocities of gender-based violence, will be placed next to a statue of our nation’s father, Nelson Mandela, to depict the disgust he would have for his country’s current circumstances.”

The Anti-GBV Movement of Stellenbosch's logo. Photo: Facebook.

The Anti-GBV Movement of Stellenbosch’s logo. Photo: Facebook.

“Raw speeches from victims of gender-based violence will be delivered during an hour time period when the public is called upon to, in socially distancing manners, place their pieces around the statue. Controversial, vulgar and repulsive pieces are expected, which will ensure gender-based violence is no longer ignored,” he said.

All participants are called to adhere to lockdown regulations including wearing masks, standing 1.5m apart, greeting with elbows and sanitizing regularly. Participants will also be required to sanitize their hands before and after placing their pieces at the allocated sites.

“The movement started with an anti-gender-based violence team planning synced protests across the country. Rejections of mass-gatherings by the South African police due to lockdown regulations led to re-imagined protests which adhere to all social-distancing regulations. With our right of public expression hindered by the ongoing pandemic, our sadness, anger, and depression can only be depicted through art.”

“We hope that these artistic memorials will start the conversation and education of those that do not understand the severity of abuse. Only then will our men start defending us, instead of attacking us,” Engelbrecht said.