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16 Days of Activism: Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies call for Advocacy all year round

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By Ragheema Mclean

In honour of the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children, Community activists, the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies (BWL) are amplifying their voices, calling for continuous protection for vulnerable citizens, extending beyond the 16 days of activism.

Kicking off their campaign, BWL members gathered at the corner of Bluegum Street and Jakes Gerwel Drive with placards on Monday and Tuesday morning.

The group is set to host several other demonstrations for the rest of the 16 days in and around the Bonteheuwel area as well.

Speaking on the VOC Breakfast show Wednesday, founding member of the group, Sadiya Arnold highlighted the need to raise awareness on GBV related issues all year round not just during the 16 days of activism.

“Every year this time, it’s the same thing and then after the 16 nothing actually happens.”

Established in 2007, BWL’s objective was to unite women and establish secure and empowering spaces.

Arnold emphasized the need for “356 days of activism,” expressing disappointment in the limited availability of resources and assistance within the community for women in need.

“It’s so sad, our constitution stipulates all these beautiful rights and assistance that should be available to our people, but those are all closed doors, the help is not reaching our people.”

One of the main issues residents are facing is the language barrier at local police stations, where individuals are often redirected to other police stations due to language differences.

“When we go to our police station to report a case, they refer us to Bishops Lavis station because they can’t speak Afrikaans.”

“These people are angry, sad and broken going to the police station for help then they’re turned away.”

“Bonteheuwel is n Afrikaanse dorp, people are already struggling with poverty, they don’t have the means to travel to Bishops Lavis for police assistance.”

Recognizing the fear and suffering among women due to various forms of abuse, BWL collaborates with organizations such as Woodstock’s trauma counsellors and, offering free legal assistance and counselling to those in need.

“There are so many of our Muslim mothers and sisters in our community are scared and broken of the abuse, the physically, emotionally, and financially.”

“It makes you think…where have we gone wrong as Muslims, we need to see to our people.”

In addition, the group just recently initiated a group called men empowerment to provide a platform for vulnerable men who also need help.

Arnold noted that gangsterism and crime is rife not only in Bontehevel but all-around Cape Town.

“Be the change you want to see.”

“The same way we feel for our brother and sisters in Palestine, we must feel for our own people here within our midst.”

“We want to encourage all of the community to come out in their numbers to show support.”

To see what the Walking Ladies are doing, visit their Facebook page for more about their initiatives and involvement.

Photo: Supplied

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