The reproductive justice movement

If the reproductive justice movement has one message, it’s this: reproductive rights alone aren’t enough.

The term “reproductive justice” was coined in 1994 by a group of black women activists to emphasize the necessity of placing reproductive rights and health in a broader social justice framework. What that means in practice is that we can’t divorce the battle for abortion rights and reproductive health care from struggles against racism, economic inequality, homophobia, and transphobia—because these things also affect whether and how people are able to make decisions about their bodies, their families, and their lives.

It’s not enough to ensure that contraception and abortion are legal if many people are still unable to access them because of poverty and marginalization. Reproductive justice also means that those who choose to parent should be able to raise their children in safe and healthy surroundings, free from violence, discrimination, and environmental pollution.

As Naa Hammond of Groundswell Fund notes in the above video, “historically, this is a movement that has been deeply intersectional”—one that centers the experience and insights of women of color, low-income women, and LGBTQ people.

Reproductive justice advocates in the United States are fighting to ensure that people have access to abortion, contraception, comprehensive sex education, and prenatal and childbirth care. But they’re also asking why parents in places like Flint, Michigan, must raise children without clean water because of environmental racism, challenging flawed immigration and criminal justice systems that tear families apart, and working to end violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people.

This focus on building connections across issues and between communities is one reason the reproductive justice movement offers an important model for progressive organizing—and has valuable lessons to teach those of us in philanthropy about how to support transformative change.

Watch the video here:


Rape care centres closing? We can stop this

*Warning, talk of rape and violence* If you were raped, would you be able to access adequate post-rape care? For too many the answer is a shocking no, like 41-year old Bianca Jonkers* who was gang raped by seven men in Diepsloot earlier this year. The next morning, she had to travel about 20kms to Randburg to access post rape care such as counselling, the morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy, antibiotics to prevent infection, an HIV test and a month’s dosage of antiretrovirals if she was HIV negative to reduce chances of contracting HIV because the health facility in her area did not offer these services.[1]. Butwe can change this.

With the increase in reports of gender based violence, we have an opportunity now to let those entrusted with ensuring services for rape victims know we won’t stop until they begin to take a lead in providing effective post-rape services. Please click here to support this campaign:

Many other women are at risk especially those in rural and peri-urban areas where if you do not have money to travel to a nearest facility, you put your life at risk of contracting HIV and other unwanted illnesses related to rape. Compounding the situation further is that international funding for Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) is drying up [2]. These centres are “one-stop” facilities for rape survivors, providing services such as counselling, medical care and the collection of evidence used to prosecute alleged rapists.

For Bianca and every other rape survivor who need to access these services, it is critical that we stand firmly behind the call for a well-funded inter-departmental intervention that will work at not only funding these centres so that they continue offering these services but must work towards increasing their number so every survivor in every part of Mzansi is able to access them. Please click here to add your name to this call:

When women have been under attack, the amandla .mobi community has consistently come together to fight this. We can do it again.

Together for justice,
Thuli, Koketso and Nqaba for amandla .mobi

PS: Our ally on this campaign Health-e news has developed a tool where women can share their testimonies about post-rape care. If you are a survivor of sexual violence and are willing to share your story to help others, please SMS ‘end rape’ to 38006 and follow the prompts. The SMS is free.

[1] ‘I would have killed myself’: Free app puts care at rape survivors’ fingertips. An article by Pontsho Pilane. Bhekisisa. 23 May 2017.
[2] Almost half of the centers for rape survivors may lose funding for counselling services. An article by Pontsho Pilane. Bhekisisa. 29 August 2016

Nonkie Smous Killed for being gay

While recent reports on the murder of part-time student Karabo Mokoena – whose body was discovered after she was burnt to death with acid with a tyre around her neck – have had South Africans reeling in horror, another equally disturbing murder has passed quietly by.

Mokoena’s death sparked national outrage and made international news when her boyfriend was arrested for the killing. The crime led to a social media storm, with the hashtag #MenAreTrash erupting on Twitter recently, sparking the public sharing of domestic abuse stories.

But in the Free State, where a similar hideous murder had taken place, it took police three weeks to confirm that the burnt body of a young woman discovered in Maokeng township near Kroonstad last month was that of Nonkie Smous.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in the Free State have spoken out against the crime, believing Smous was murdered because she was gay. The young woman was finally laid to rest this past weekend.


Thabiso Mogapi, chairperson of Action for Social Justice International said “The family had to wait for more than three weeks for the outcome of the DNA results because the body could not be visually identified. We are now relieved because we can bury her. I believe that justice should be done because Nonkie did not deserve what happened to her.”

Several sources claim the 28 year-old lesbian was raped and brutally murdered before her body was set alight. Three man were originally arrested in connection with the murder. However two were let go and the third, charged with robbery because her cellphone and sneakers were found in his possession, has been released from custody.

Nthabiseng Mokonyane, an LGBTI activist and relative said “We were very upset and shocked about this because the last time we saw (Nonkie), she had gone to church. But she never came back home. The perpetrators should be punished and rot in jail.”

Zandile Nzinande (27), said “We get killed because of who we are. People should be educated so that they have a more liberal attitude towards homosexuals.”


Smous’s murder comes days just after Free State LGBTI community celebrated Pride. Virginia Magwazwa, LGBTI coordinator and gender activist, said “We are extremely disturbed by the recent incident regarding Karabo Mokoena, and wish that her family is comforted. But we also have an issue with the selective manner in which the country responds to incidents like these.”

“Nonki Smous was also a young woman who was killed and burnt by a man. But the difference is that she was gender non-confirming. Why did the EFF not write a statement on this particular incident? Maybe I’m too hurt, or perhaps missed something,” said Magwazwa.

A recent hate crime study by OUT LGBTI Wellbeing together with the Love Not Hate Campaign found that 41% of LGBTI people in South Africa know someone who has been murdered because of their sexual orientation.

Smous’s funeral took place last weekend at Seeisoville Community Hall and her body was laid to rest in Wespark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

An edited version of this story appeared in The Star.