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South African women: violated, beaten, dismembered…

There is a very violent war waged against women in South Africa. Last year 2,700 of them and more than one thousand children died at the hands of another person. One in five South Africans over 18 has experienced physical violence from their partner.

 

By Ilsa Rodríguez

 

This was said by the president of South Africa, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, and official statistics indicate that in just one year (from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019), 21,222 murders occurred in South Africa, 686 more than the year before, and that sexual offenses increased by 19 percent.

That is why it is impossible to understand how an issue that has been going on for so long is not causing the scandal it should.

“There are those who have lost respect for the values that define our own essence of Africans, the protection of women and children, tolerance and the settlement of disputes, and we need to restore the human rights of others, a principle that many South Africans fought for and a cause for which many offered their lives,” he added.

“South Africa mourns the death of several women and girls at the hands of men. The time has come to join together as a nation to face this problem directly. Violence against women goes beyond a national crisis; it is a crime against our common humanity.”

Analysts believe that despite the advances of South African women in 25 years of democracy, who make up more than 50% of the members of the Council of Ministers and occupy prominent positions in the governments of the country’s nine provinces, women in this nation have historically been marginalised by a tribal society where men have the last word.

Abuses, forced marriages at an early age and other abuse in the home, in places of work and in the streets are often silenced, at a time when rapes and murders of women have become daily news in the national media.

The truth is that the permanent murder of women in South Africa, with brutal crimes coming to the surface in recent weeks, provokes great commotion and calls for unity to confront gender violence in this nation.

That is why the aggressions with women in this Southern African nation, where the death of a female is reported every three hours and there are daily reports of more than 100 rapes, received an official response from Ramaphosa, who convened an extraordinary session of the two chambers of the National Parliament in search for help.

The president said that South Africa is one of the most insecure countries in the world for women, with levels of violence only comparable to nations that are at war.

These levels of crimes against the members of the feminine sector of society reflect, in Ramaphosa’s opinion, “a much broader crisis of violence in our society”, which is confirmed by recent aggressions against businesses of African and South African migrants that caused 12 deaths and numerous material losses.

The murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a young 19-year-old woman raped and dismembered, and the death of boxing champion Leighandre Jegels at the hands of her partner in early September caused thousands of South Africans to respond by taking to the streets in demand for concrete actions to stop these crimes against women and girls and protect them.

Added to both crimes were the deaths of four children murdered by their mother’s partner, who wanted to take revenge with that horrible action for her decision to divorce him.

After announcing the creation of an interim committee in the Presidency that will prepare an Emergency Action Plan with the participation of both the government and social organisations, which will include preventive measures, Ramaphosa stressed that violence against women is not their problem, but that of men.  (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: hphelvin@gmail.com)

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