The 21st of March marks a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history. Human Rights Day is linked to the atrocities that occurred in Sharpville on March 21, 1960. At this time in South Africa, Apartheid was in full force under the National Party regime. It was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in the country from 1948 until 1994.
One of the many authoritative legislations was known as ‘Pass laws.’ It required black individuals to carry pass books, which restricted each holder to a designated area. If they were found trespassing outside their area, they were prosecuted.
How the ‘Sharpville Massacre’ occurred
On that fateful day in 1960, during a peaceful protest against the Pass laws, 69 people were killed, and 180 hurt. After refusing an order to disperse, police opened fire on men, women and children. The horrific event was called the ‘Sharpville Massacre’. This was more than a protest, it was a stand taken by black people rising up in unison to fight for their human rights.
However, when Nelson Mandela was sworn in as president of a new, democratic South Africa on May 10, 1994, he declared that the 21 March will be an annual public holiday to remind all South Africans that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to human dignity.
Marie Stopes South Africa’s vision parallels and implements an individual’s right to dignity. For us, we want to reach a day where all women in the country can say that they are fully in control of the choices they make about their body.
In South Africa, women have the legal right to a safe abortion should they choose to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. There is no reason to feel embarrassed or humiliated for making this choice.
In the midst of a turbulent time in our country’s history, we need to remember that there were those who made the choice to fearlessly challenge the status-quo; this is the only way we can be the change that is needed to eliminate stigma attached to abortion.
Marie Stopes embraces your right to choose
Marie Stopes is the global leader in women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
Every woman in South Africa has the legal right to a safe abortion performed by professionals at an accredited medical facility. It’s your body, your choice. If you would like more information about the two procedures we offer, or any of Marie Stopes South Africa’s services, please book and appointment or call us on 0800 11 77 85.
In South Africa, we operate 17 centres across 7 provinces and are a Section 21 non-profit organisation recognised for the quality of our clinical services and our non-judgemental, client-friendly approach. The fees we charge for our services are cross-subsidised across our network, meaning centres are able to offer prices that best suit the communities they serve.