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Abstract

 ‘Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo' [You strike a woman; you strike a rock] as a rallying cry has two significant meanings for this thesis. First, to "strike a woman" highlights the ways in which politically active black south African women suffered from unspeakable violence under apartheid. Secondly, "to strike a woman, is to strike a rock", in a symbolic sense, highlights the current destruction of women's monuments, usually made of cement, marble or bronze. Although women have suffered from both physical and symbolic assaults on their dignity under apartheid such as in the case of Nokuthula Simelane, women in the post-apartheid era are now using both legal and symbolic means to reclaim their dignity. I argue that what is at stake is not only how women lay claim to dignity, but the source of the tension between dignity as a right and a value.

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