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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

Trigger warning: gender-based violence, femicide and graphic violence.

Protests are part of every country, organization and most importantly everyone’s lives. They are used to stand against rules and regulations or lack thereof. Protests may be peaceful, and they may be severe. They can even lead to civil war, but how long do they last? In South Africa, gender-based violence protests have been non-stop for over a year and it is about time we ask why. Why is it taking this long for people to listen? What does it take for a protest to truly end? 

While researching protests, I read an interesting book that spoke about the late monk – Thich Quang Duc. He was a Vietnamese monk who became a symbol for change during the early 1960s. The monk sat on the floor in your imagined Buddhist way, legs crossed, eyes closed, and an open heart. He was set alight and chose to be burned alive for the good of South Vietnam. He was protesting the persecution against Buddhism in South Vietnam and luckily one magical photograph of this scarring day was seen worldwide. 

According to journalists, this decision was made to end the suffering of their Buddhist community and the rest of their country. Reading about this protest that saved millions, makes one wonder about the length the monk thought he needed to go to. To end South Vietnams suffering was drastic and tragic, but it worked. It could have easily been ended by the hands of the officials in charge after the first peaceful protest. In a very biblical way, the late monk stood tall to help those around him and helped change South Vietnam for the better. 

The South African government has had their fair share in the amount of peaceful protests being executed by police and ignored by members of authority. The Buddhists in Vietnam could no longer protest, so burning one of their own monks alive finally gained the right attention they needed. South Africa should not have to provide such a tragic spectacle for female voices to become heard. The world should not silence the normality of rape and murder especially when the numbers continue to rise and not fall. 

For government officials to listen to these protests, they need to understand why it is so important and hopefully without such a tragedy. Women should not need to be set alight in front of the parliament building to be heard. The South African goverment needs to act in the appropriate manner before more women are high jacked, tortured and killed even during a pandemic, where there is no spectacle needed to be seen. 

Women marching and singing has been labelled as another protest. Indeed, strikes and protests are common in a third-world country, however, a big uprising and a few promises to make the noise go away may not cut it. When it comes to protests, only negative connotations derive, and these promises are not met with the same enthusiasm as the people hope. Protests may also include police brutality, violence, on-going suffering, impatience, and arrogance. 

The women singing and marching are gathering members of South Africa to ask for safety of their own kind. They should not have to light themselves in the middle of the city centre to gain global attention. They should not have to put on a show for their voices to be heard. They need protection to live.


Manson, M. (2019). Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope. Harper & Row Publishers.

Bachelor of Arts in Film, English & Media Studies I'm just a girl with the chance to write about beautiful places, people and other worldly phenomena (Desai, 2020) ?