It’s a sad fact that thousands of South Africans, particularly women and children, cannot safely walk to where they catch trains and buses to get to work and schools.
In the past few months media attention has been focused on high profile cases of violence against women and children – family killings, beatings, abduction, rape and murder.
But this is the tip of the iceberg of gender-based violence, the problem is pervasive in our society and knows no colour bar or restriction due to wealth or social status. It has many manifestations, all taking away from the freedom of our women and children and their rights to live free from violence and harassment.
One ray of light reported recently, an initiative that gives hope for a better future, an alternative way of thinking and a kinder, gentler South Africa, has been instituted by men in the township of Soweto.
Here residents – some of whom occasionally get donations, but mostly provide the service for free – escort women and children to the places where they take public transport, so they can do it free of harassment, assault or worse.
The police cannot ensure a safe environment, so citizens have stepped in.
Vuvuzela returns in South Africa, this time for the cause of women's safety pic.twitter.com/nEj0TdOcih
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 30, 2019
And the vuvuzela, that buzzing icon of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, is used as an alarm call to alert the women and mothers that their escorts are ready to walk with them, in the morning and again when they return from work and schools in the evening.
According to a Global Citizen report, hundreds of patrollers, working in teams throughout Soweto, are performing this function.
What a great idea, something real that helps people “on the ground”, rather than a speech that is here today and gone tomorrow with little consequences or actions put in place. And perhaps, some of the guardians will be able to put food on the table as a consequence.
Congratulations to these men in Soweto township. South Africa desperately needs more citizens like you.