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From Fighting Apartheid to Demanding Equality for Women and LGBT People

On August 9, 1956, 20,000 women of all races marched through the streets of Pretoria, South Africa in defiance of apartheid. They stood outside the Union Buildings, the government seat, protesting apartheid, and sang, “You strike a woman, you strike a…
Women march on the Union Buildings protesting apartheid in Pretoria, South Africa, August 9, 1956.
News

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic underlines the urgent need for safety nets for domestic workers.

Few workers have cause to celebrate May 1, International Workers' Day, this year. COVID-19 has been accompanied by another pandemic - of job loss and economic insecurity. Domestic workers, primarily women, have particularly precarious jobs and often do…
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  Summary Selling sex has been illegal in South Africa since at least the early 1900s and buying sex was criminalised in 2007. South African laws also prohibit other aspects of sex work, including running or owning a brothel, living off the earnings of…
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Why Sex Work Should be Decriminalized

How did you find sex workers willing to talk about their work despite it being illegal in South Africa?
 
 It’s very difficult to gain sex workers’ trust without connections to people already actively supporting sex workers. For one, because their…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011
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South African authorities are compromising the safety and wellbeing of women and obstructing efforts to end the HIV pandemic by treating sex work as a crime, Human Rights Watch and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) said in a report…
Report
Summary When the head teacher found out that I was pregnant, he called me to his office and told me, “You have to leave our school immediately because you are pregnant.” —Jamida K., Kahama, Tanzania, April 2014 We don’t allow pregnant girls to continue…
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A few days ago, the South African cabinet approved a progressive and far-reaching strategy designed to lower its exceptionally high rates of teen pregnancy and provide access to comprehensive reproductive health care to adolescents. This positive…
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Kwamboka W. was still in primary school when she had sex with her first boyfriend. She had no information about contraception and didn’t use any protection. Three months later, she was shocked to learn that she was pregnant. She was even more shocked when…
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Victoria J. married in 2009 at age 14, and became pregnant shortly after. “I started labour in the morning on a Friday …. The nurse kept checking and saying I would deliver safely. On Monday she said I was weak. “The doctor decided to operate on me. (…
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It’s an occupational hazard when you work on women’s rights, to routinely face women who have been subjected to unspeakable violence, horrible beyond anything you could imagine.  As a young lawyer in South Africa in the 1990s, one of first my clients was…
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Mothers giving birth are dying while the debate about standards in the public sector continues.

Busisiwe was in labour for 36 hours but was turned away twice from a community health centre. When she was finally admitted, she gave birth to a boy and was discharged six hours later. Two days later she returned, feeling weak. Again she was turned away…