Take Note of These Practical Tips to Stay Safe as a Woman in South Africa

I will NOT be next.

The femicide of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana (and many others) has mobilised women. It’s also left many of us scared. Scared to leave our homes, scared to move. There is a war against women in South Africa. Along with some tips to stay safe, this pepper spray drive can equip you with a defense mechanism #IWillNotBeNext.

  • Uyinene Mrwetyan
  • Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels
  • Meghan Cremer
  • Lynette Volschen
  • Jesse Hess

The heart-breaking list goes on. The end of Women’s month is marked by multiple tragedies involving gender-based violence. We are not safe. South African women are all wondering: Am I next? These cases have sparked a very important conversation about gender-based violence in South Africa. The safety of South African women is a pressing matter. We are tired, we are scared. And we want solutions.

Related: How Many Femicides Will it Take? A Champion Boxer, A First-Year Student, 3 000 Others

The All-Female UCT Collective

An all-female collective of UCT students (started by Samantha T Perkins and Zoar S Lewis) have decided to take a stand and say #IWillNotBeNext. With all the violence that’s transpired in and around UCT and SA, many women and girls have a paralyzing fear of doing basic activities. Going to the gym, going to school, even going to the shop – is daunting. If the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that no space is safe.

The Pepper Spray Drive

These women are raising funds to buy pepper spray cans and distribute them to female UCT students. And, hopefully, students at other institutions and campuses too, who can’t afford them and need to feel safer. Right now, as women, we are living in fear. This initiative will allow many young women to regain some sort of confidence. To walk out their homes knowing they have some means of protecting themselves from vile predators.

Potentially Life-Saving Safety Tips

A new survey conducted by 1st for Women Insurance looks at key safety concerns and tips for women. So, here are some things to remember:

  • Keep a can of pepper spray on you (in your bag, in your car, as you walk).
  • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost.
  • Always let a friend know where you are, where you are going and when you have arrived.
  • Limit distractions like checking your phone while walking to or from your car.
  • Avoid waiting in your car, driving with windows open and keep the doors locked.
  • Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
  • Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this avoids you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
  • Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
  • Slow down in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night. This way, you will avoid coming to a complete stop and reduce your risk of becoming a target.
  • Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
  • Be wary of drinking anything that you have not poured yourself or watched someone pour for you. Also, never leave your drink unattended.

Support The Cause #IWillNotBeNext

Want to be a part of this great initiative and help women feel safer? You can donate here. They’ve started a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to buy over 300 pepper spray cans to give to UCT women in need of them. Anyone can donate. One can of pepper spray goes for about R90-R125. The goal is R30 000, and they have already currently secured R10 000.

So use your voice against gender-based violence in South Africa, and share this post with your friends and family. The government is only sending condolences and change is not happening fast enough. Let’s equip and arm ourselves and each other with defense mechanisms ASAP.

Related: 9 Things Every Woman Should Know When Stopped by the Cops

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