Invitation to a conversation on Violence Against Women online: Presence, Problems and Solutions

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As part of unpacking the annually commemorated 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL], in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications [APC] would like to host a day-long conversation and awareness raising platform. The engagement will be looking into violence against women online and investigating the occurrence of this violence, the recognition of cyber violence as violence by society and what the legal environment provides, in terms of protection and recourse, for women who experience violence online.

Information about violence that women experience online is not popular or public. But yet so many women are harassed, trolled and intimidated in various online spaces in South Africa. Various media outlets have resolved to altogether do away with the comment sections of their websites because many aggressions and violent expressions are carried out in online spaces.

The same misogyny that is experienced offline plays out online, and women are targeted in deliberate attacks as people who honestly and fearlessly express themselves, for various reasons and across varied online platforms. The many experiences of women’s online violence goes largely ignored, with many people, even within social justice structures working to end violence experienced by women not recognizing this as ‘real’ violence.

This day’s conversation will attempt to cover the following:

  • Awareness: we hope to invite various stakeholders to assess the extent of our knowledge on online violence experienced by women. Through this process, we hope to gauge whether there is enough awareness about online violence, what it looks like, and also to investigate how violence online presents itself.
  • Sharing or experiences and examples: we hope to create a safe space for women to speak about our experiences of violence online, and how/if we responded to this violence.
  • Legal environment: we hope to look at the legal environment in South Africa with regards to cyber-crime, and whether violence against women online is recognised by law enforcement and what provisions exist for women seeking recourse.
  • Initiatives and examples that work: we hope to look into countries inside and outside Africa that have taken steps to protect or prevent violence against women online, as well as have provided avenues for recourse for women who report online violence.
  • Recommendations: we hope to draft a document that has recommendations for action for the various stakeholders present. These recommendations will be shared wide with the various stakeholders that affect and are affected by the occurrence of online violence.

To make this conversation as rich, informative and inclusive as we intend to make it, we would very much appreciate your participation.

Please indicate if you are available to take part in this which is taking place on Thursday, 3 December 2015.

Once you confirm we will be sure to share logistical information for this event.

If you cannot participate physically, you can Skype in for the conversation, or follow @CALAdvocacy on twitter for daily updates of the event, but please RSVP so that we know who will be there!

Please send your RSVP to, who is also copied in on this email.

Looking forward to a yes and starting an important and exciting conversation!


Coalition of African Lesbians


The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] is Moving!


Dear members, partners and feminist friends,

This is to inform you that the offices of the Coalition of African Lesbians is moving to a new location, still in Johannesburg, which will be sent to you once we have settled in. We will no longer be located at Forum II, Old Historical Building at the Braampark Office Park on 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Because of this movement, our internet connection and our phone-lines are unavailable at the moment, and we plead your understanding during this moment of transition. We are working towards ensuring that we are up and running as usual by next week Monday 10 August.
Also, as a result, our server is down, and therefore we cannot receive any mail via the domain. Please see below for a number to call to access alternative email addresses that you can use to contact CAL staff during this time.
We are excited for the move and the growth and are thankful for your understanding during this time.
For any inquiries regarding the upcoming CAL General Assembly, please contact Donna Smith at
In case of an urgent need to contact CAL, please call : +27 76 918 3515
See you at our new place!
CAL Secretariat.

Solidarity Statement for Pride Events coming up in South Africa from the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL]


When attending Pride, whether for social, political or both reasons, we cannot forget the simple fact that being able to hold and participate in a Pride event is in itself an indication of how far we have come as  movements and people concerned about women’ rights and about social justice based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The freedom to express our sexuality and our gender  in a continent and a country where the persecution of people that challenge gendered structures of being, loving and existing, should never be forgotten. Diversity should be celebrated. Differences should be celebrated. We should be celebrated. We celebrate today  for those who cannot live and love openly. We celebrate to remind ourselves that the struggle for our freedom and safety is far from over.

The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL], is a formation of more than 30 organisations in 19 countries in Africa committed to advancing justice for lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people. We are passionate feminists, activists, human rights defenders, lovers, sisters, mothers, brothers, aunts, uncles.

Whilst we believe that there are complex discussions waiting to be had about the language of “pride” and the implications of such namings, the purpose and history of Pride events should never be forgotten. Like many other calls for justice, the need for a Pride march came from a space of deep oppression and neglect. The world around us did not include us and in fact openly rejected us. Little acknowledged, represented or reflected the diversity that we lived and felt in private and behind closed doors. To the wider world there was no room for ‘otherness’ and difference of this kind. Our expressions, feelings, fears and anxieties were kept behind closed doors, where the silence soon became unbearable, and we decided not to just speak out, but scream out our presence.  Pride marches in Gauteng were born from a deep sense of inequality. The same inequalities that creates a ‘them’ and an ‘us. When we march for Pride we march for all these issues and structures of inequality. Race, class, age and [dis]ablity are the basis of exclusion. We are committed to Pride marches that break barriers and push boundaries, provoke deep and lasting change for our society as a whole. Pride events should reflect this.

We look forward to Pride as a space for inclusion, difference and a recognition of intersectionalities, a space for engagement and celebration. Pride events should be a place where ‘us’ and ‘them’ come together and find a ‘we’ with a commonality of purpose, of being and of co-existing whilst confronting the basis of the inequalities, oppressions, violations and discrimination we face as people. Pride events that diminish feminist values belittle and distort the true meaning of why we march, why we act and why we work to advance social justice.

With the arrival of Pride season in the Gauteng area of South Africa, we at the Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] are working with the organisers of the following Pride events in September and October 2013:

EPOC Pride: The Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee was formed in June 2009 by a small group of LGBTIs who had the desire to make a positive change from severe Hate-Crimes affecting LGBTIs within Ekurhuleni. EPOC then undertook the gruelling and challenging task of organising the Ekurhuleni Pride March in a period of 3 months. And what a success it was, we were able to march the streets of Kwa-Thema and celebrate our uniqueness and self-pride. EPOC comprises of 13 hard-working volunteers who have worked hand in hand towards the fight of liberty, equality and non-discrimination against LGBTIs. This will be EPOC’s 5th year of organizing this Pride event. EPOC Pride will take place on the 21st of October, 2013.

SOWETO Pride: SOWETO Pride is a political project initiated by FEW in 2004 with the aim of creating and making political and social space for black lesbian women to celebrate our sexuality and our humanity. Pride has grown in numbers over the years. The Project, as a political act, brings together our community and our ideas and messages and articulate these both amongst activists from various movements, to surrounding communities in SOWETO, and to the broader public through the media. It is an act of courage and resistance, an act of open public display and a key moment in the year for increasing the visibility of all the identities of this community. SOWETO Pride is also, importantly, a social space where black lesbian women and the broader LGBTI community and women’s rights movement come together, [re]connect and have fun in a safe space. This will be SOWETO  Pride’s 10th year of organizing activism and building LGBTI awareness. SOWETO Pride will take place on the 28th of October, 2013.

•Johannesburg People’s Pride: The first Pride of its name, the Johannesburg People’s Pride aims to produce an event that is based on anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-sexism, anti-ableism and the positioning of LGBTIAQ struggles within broader socio-political and economic contexts and struggles in South Africa and globally. The Johannesburg People’s Pride will take place on the 5th of October, 2013.

CAL encourages all our members, friends, affiliates and partners to support these Pride events and to show solidarity in the struggle for social justice for all people.

We wish everyone a safe, engaging and thought provoking Pride experience!

[CAL] Secretariat

19th September, 2013