Female informal traders suffer a great deal of gender-based violence and harassment from law enforcement members. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Female informal traders suffer a great deal of gender-based violence and harassment from law enforcement members. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Female traders suffering at hands of bully boy officials, says Traders Alliance

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Cape Town - Female informal traders suffer a great deal of gender-based violence and harassment from law enforcement members and criminals that have infiltrated the sector – harassment they say goes unpunished.

This was one of the concerns raised by Manenberg Business Forum chairperson and informal trader Shamielah Edwards during an SA Traders Alliance (Saita) discussion on gender-based violence in the informal trading sector on Wednesday.

Saita communications manager Louise Silver said gender-based violence was a profound widespread problem in South Africa and has impacted on almost every aspect of life and sectors.

“However, there is a disproportionate skew that affects mostly women and girls. We know that it is systemic and deeply entrenched and has almost become an institution and a culture and a tradition in the country,” she said.

Community activist Wilhelmina Van Dyk said solutions that were out there were either academic or they only focused on particular areas and groups that were being violated.

“We are constantly talking about gender-based violence on various platforms and I think that might be one of the problems, but there are no real and relevant solutions. I often notice in Bellville and in many spots in the city when the law enforcement officers and police are packing up these informal traders’ stalls because they are not registered or for whatever reasons who is in the authority can find.

“In these occurrences there are many women that get shoved away, manhandled, and to me that is violence. Because there are many women informal traders you can say it is gender-based because the focus is mainly on these women that are mainly trying to make a living, while not discounting that men also get violated,” she said.

Van Dyk said while a lot was being done to fight the scourge, she said this was not for the victims that were suffering.

“We need to look at what is relevant because what’s being done is only to say we are talking about and we are talking about it. The people who are helping with regards to abuse are usually small-scale community organisations that are lacking resources to do that,” said Van Dyk.

Saita national director Paul Bester said more than 90% of women were in the informal trading space because they were single parents or that it was believed that they must “keep the pots warm”.

“It is easy for two metro police officers telling a small young female to move over and take their stuff away, knowing that she won’t have resistance. Saita is against gender-based violence, whether it happens in the home or on the streets or in any way where one addresses a female in a manner that is derogatory,” said Bester.

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