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More and more people are being forcibly removed from their dwelling places in the towns and cast out to the barren reserves as all African workers are being turned into migrant labourers.Women serving no purpose for the White economy are discarded, unable to live with their husbands except perhaps during the annual two-week holiday allowed migrant workers.Similarly, African women played a leading role in the general political struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.

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The origins of the oppression of African women in South Africa are similar to those, which characterized all colonised nations during the plunder of previous centuries.

Expropriation of tribal lands, slavery, forced labour, destruction of indigenous culture - these were the effects of the onslaught of colonialism on the people of Africa and elsewhere.

However, to speak generally of South African women is to obscure the real importance of these bitter struggles.

It is the African women in particular - those who suffer from both national and sexual oppression - who sacrificed most in the struggle against the South African state's definition of them as 'superfluous appendages' of African male workers.

When women massively become political the revolution has moved to a new stage.'Wathin't a bafazi, way ithint'imbolodo uzo kufa'(Now you have touched the women (Strydom), you have struck a rock, you have dislodged a boulder; you will be crushed).a Freedom Song sung by South African women protesting against the extension of Pass Laws to African women, 9 August 1956.

The unprecedented militancy demonstrated by South African women during the 1950s advanced the liberation struggle significantly.

The women's resistance campaign is documented in a later section of this chapter.

What has been described so far are the effects on African women of laws which apply to both men and women.

In South Africa, women provide another source of readily available cheap Black labour so necessary for the system to survive.

Yet these women, whose consciousness has spanned several dimensions of oppression, played a crucial role in the advancement of the working class struggle spearheaded by SACTU.

The pass laws have been described as the 'African worker's handcuffs'.

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