Recent gruesome murders of women emplies the need for urgent special intervention.
A dark, menacing cloud hovers over South Africa. A string of macabre murders of women and girls and what appears an up-shoot in gender-based violence (GBV) cases have gripped the nation.
Fresh from the horrific killing of Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town recently, on Monday, the shocking details from the Pretoria High Court of how Nicholas Ninow raped a helpless seven-year-old girl at a Dros restaurant in Silverton, Pretoria, sent the nation back into a state of emotional turmoil. The ink had hardly dried on news reports of the callous killing of world-renowned karate and SA boxing female champion Leighandre Jegels.
Earlier in the week, the country woke up to the news that another young student from Durban, Natasha Conabeer, had died in hospital after she was found unconscious by her family. She ha been missing for three weeks and died before she could even tell her loved ones what had happened to her.
When thousands of women descended on the seat of economic power – the Johannesburg Stock Exchange – in Johannesburg on Friday, the message was clear: men must stop the war currently underway on women’s bodies.
The crime statistics released this past week also confirmed what women already knew. Overall sexual offences against women and children stand at a staggering 52,420 – an increase of 2,312. Sexual offences against children have increased by 3,8 percent to 24,387. Orange Farm in Gauteng, according to the latest statistics, is home to the highest umber of rapes in the country at 226 per year per policing area. The stats show that while the number of women murdered decreased by 5,4%, the actual killings remain high at 2,771 – a decrease from 2,930 the year prior.
The discussions of femicide and GBV is nothing new and one can say that it is a topic that has shifted from the saloon or barbershop talk to the entrances of parliament and the JSE.
With a ministry of women in government formed in June 2014, there are still a number of existing social issues that need to be addressed. The minister of Women Maite Nkoana-Mashabanedeclared in her recent budget vote speech that “there was a war against women and the total shutdown march of August 1, 2018 had not stopped the carnage as women are in a state of constant fear of violence and abuse”.
She revealed that over 30 women were killed in August, which is a women’s month, this year. “There is an onslaught on women in this country, and the perpetrators believe they have the right to destroy the lives of others. We need stronger interventions if women are to enjoy the fruits of our democracy the same way the majority of men do,” adds Nkoana-Mashabane.
Sonke Gender Justice spokesperson and gender activist Nonhlanhla Skosana confirms that the rate of femicide in the country is five times the global average, which constitutes a serious crisis.
“I don’t want to say the incidences are increasing but the reporting as a whole is increasing. We know that femicide even happens in rural areas where women are unable to report those cases because of issues of culture and unavailability of services to assist them to understand that this is ‘femicide’,” she says. Skosana adds that although President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an end to GBV, his action was nothing new.
“A lot of the resources that were set aside for the department of women were used for other things. We haven’t had a voice Women call on business to help fight scourge of femicide from the department of women on gender-based violence,” she says.
“Even now we are still struggling to hear and see what the ministry is doing about gender-based
violence. Even when the president talks he doesn’t even mention this ministry,” she says.
The department was unable to respond to inquiries sent by Sunday World before
going to print, about what the department has done in the last few years. The surge does not end with the ordinary women and children, our local celebrities such as TV presenter
Lalla Hirayama and Gqom singer Moonchild Sanelly, have openly detailed their ordeals. Hirayama took to social media to explain the verbal and emotional abuse she endured while in a serious relationship with her now ex-boyfriend Chris Nkosi. “I was always made to feel less than everyone else…I couldn’t go anywhere without him. I wasn’t allowed to go out at night without him,” she wrote. Meanwhile, Moonchild revealed she had been sexually harassed by her uncle as a child. “I went to report it with my friend Maps. The cops asked me what I was wearing, why did I dance with my uncle, and that I should go home and talk about it with my family. They put
me in van and drove me
home,” she recalled.
Veteran thespian and actor Dr John Kani and musician Aubery Qwana expressed their views on the latest reports. Kani said that the global push to stop gender-based violence, needs men to join forces with women to end surge of femicide. Qwana said, “Women cannot be seen as sexual tools or fantasies. Women can not live in fear because men feel women owe them something, they have no entitlement whatsoever,” says Qwana.
By Nokuthula Zwane