It is very hard, if not impossible, to get an accurate statistic on the rate of gender-based violence in South Africa because the majority of cases are never reported. The statistics that are available are just a slight indication of the widespread situation we are facing.
“To the men in my home country – please protect our women. Stand up. Speak up. Do not be bystanders. Call out your fellow man when you see him going down a dangerous path. You have the power to change this.”
– Charlize Theron, Actress
Statistics SA reported that in 2016/17 the number of women who reported experiencing sexual abuse increased by 53% from 2015/16.**39 633 rapes and 6 253 sexual assaults were reported in South Africa in 2017.*** 41% of people raped are children, both boys and girls, but it is estimated that only 1 in 9 rape cases are reported. Of those reported, only 4% result in prosecution.****
According to Statistics SA, femicide in South Africa is five times higher than the global average.****
Gender-based violence (GBV): is rooted in gender inequality and is a violation of a person’s human rights. This is violence that a person experiences because they are a specific gender. GBV can be experienced by either males or females, although females do experience this in significantly higher numbers.*****
Femicide: is an extreme form of GBV, generally understood to involve intentional murder of women because they are women. It is usually perpetrated by men, but sometimes female family members may be involved. ******
Victim blaming: “This is a devaluing act where the victim of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment is held as wholly or partially responsible for the wrongful conduct committed against them”.******* When someone is affected by gender-based violence it is never their fault. No matter what they were wearing, what they were doing, where they were, or any other factor has anything to do with why they were a victim of gender-based violence. It is always the perpetrators fault!
There have been a number of stories that have made the headlines, the most recent being Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19 year old student who was raped and murdered when she went to collect a parcel at her local post office in Cape Town. Other names that have been in the media lately as a result of femicide include Karabo Mokoena, Jesse Hess, Leighandré Jegels, Janika Mallo, Lynette Volschenk and Meghan Cremer. These stories stir up anger, fear and heartbreak among people globally but their stories are just the tip of the iceberg. There are sadly thousands of people who experience GBV and yet their stories never make it into the headlines. Many of these cases are never even reported.
SA Government’s response: In a recent statement released by Cyril Ramaphosa, he stated that policing in South Africa will be increased and that additional funding will be provided to combat gender-based violence. He says that “violence against women is not a woman’s problem, it’s men’s problem”. “The nation is in deep mourning, we are all deeply disturbed by the killings of women,” Ramaphosa said.
He said men should rise and say that ‘this should never happen in our name’. Men should say ‘we are going to rise and will bring an end to femicide’. Ramaphosa has proposed that Parliament makes public the register of sexual offenders. “This national register of offenders will list all the men convicted of acts of violence against women and children”.********
SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSE
The following hashtags have been trending:
The #MenAreTrash hashtag has caused huge controversy because not all men are involved in these awful crimes. There are good men that are standing up and fighting alongside women around the globe to end gender-based violence. The reality is that men are also affected by gender-based violence, and although the extent is significantly lower than for women, even just one incident is one too many.
Violence is everyone’s issues. In the case of individual crimes, the percentage of people aged 16 or older who experienced any type of general crime in 2016/17 was 3.6% for women and 3.9 % for men.
Greater percentages of victims of theft of personal property, sexual offences and fraud were women, while greater percentages of victims of hijacking of motor vehicles, street robbery and assault were men.** This again highlights that violence is everyone’s issue.
The #AmINext hashtag is a social media campaign that was created by Holly Jarrett of Canada to bring to light and create a discussion about Aboriginal women who were going missing and found murdered.********* In light of all the recent gender-based violence stories that have been in the headlines in South Africa, this hashtag has been trending again to generate discussion and highlight how women in South Africa don’t feel safe.
If you are using the Achieve Careers LO Programme, the following information and activities are recommended:
- GR 9 CAPS eBook pp. 22 – 27
- GR 10 LO book Section 3 pp. 48 – 49
- GR 11 LO book pp. 34 – 35
Achieve Careers supported the #BlackFriday movement on Friday 6th of September 2019 by wearing black, to stand in solidarity with the survivors and victims of gender-based violence.
*President Cyril Ramaphosa. (2018). ‘President Cyril Ramaphosa: Gender-based Violence and Femicide Summit’. [Electronic], Available: bit.ly/FemicideSummit [10 Sep 2019].
**South African Government News Agency. (2018). Gender Based Violence on the Rise. [Online], Available:bit.ly/RiseOfGenderViolence [10 Sep 2019].
***African News Agency. (2019). Amnesty International decries ‘alarming levels’ of gender-based violence in SA. [Online], Available: bit.ly/AlarmingLevelsGenderViolence [10 Sep 2019].
****Caxton Central. (2019). ‘South Africa’s shocking gender based violence statistics’. [Electronic], Available: bit.ly/GenderViolenceStats [10 Sep 2019].
*****European Institute for Gender Equality. What is gender-based violence? [Online], Available: bit.ly/GenderBasedViolenceIs[10 Sep 2019].
******Garcia-Moreno. C., Guedes. A. & Knerr. W. (2012). ‘Understanding and Addressing Violence Against Women.’ [Electronic], Available: bit.ly/WHOViolenceWomen [10 Sep 2019].
*******USLegal. Victim Blaming Law and Legal Definition. [Online], Available: bit.ly/VictimBlamingLaw [10 Sep 2019].
********Francke. R,L. (2019). ‘South Africa in a crisis of violence against women, says president’. [Electronic], Available: bit.ly/CrisisOfViolence [10 Sep 2019].
*********Thomson, A. (2014). ‘#AmINext aims to raise awareness about murdered aboriginal women’. [Electronic], Available: bit.ly/AmINextCampaign [10 Sep 2019].