Women still at serious risk from partners

2013-04-02 22:32

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Johannesburg - There has been no significant decrease in the rate of South African women murdered by their partners, the Medical Research Council of SA said on Tuesday.

"In South Africa, the murder of women by their partners remains a serious problem," senior researcher of the gender and health unit Naeemah Abrahams said in a statement.

According to a recent study led by Abrahams, the murder rate for women older than 14 was substantially lower in 2009 than in 1999.

The study found, however, that the rate of murder by an intimate partner, including a current or ex-husband or boyfriend, a same-sex partner or a rejected lover, did not decline at the same rate over the same period.

The study, published in PLOS magazine this week, was based on female homicide data collected from mortuary registers and databases, autopsy reports, and police interviews.

This information was then compared to the results of a similar study conducted in 1999.

The study found in 2009 there were 930 women murdered, compared to 1 052 in 1999. This equates to an overall female homicide rate of 12.9 per 100 000 women in 2009, compared to 24.7 in 1999.

"Although there was some evidence of a decrease in the rate of female murder by an intimate partner - 8.8 per 100 000 women in 1999 compared to 5.6 in 2009 - this decrease was not statistically significant," Abrahams said.

According to the study the conviction rate of those who killed their female partners remained unchanged between 1999 and 2009.

"The chance of convicting those who killed women, who were not their partners, had significantly decreased over the same periods.

The authors said the study was conducted to investigate whether there were changes in the prevalence and patterns of female homicide in 2009 compared to 1999.

"We had a particular interest in looking for changes that could have indicated success from the new gender-based violence legislation and perhaps accompanying prevention programming at a national level."

They continue: "There was evidence of change that we suggest is probably consequent on gun control legislation, and we did show difference in female homicide rates overall, but there was a lack of evidence that could be viewed as impact of gender-based violence policies and programming."

There was a significant decrease in the rate of women shot dead, from 7.5 per 100 000 women in 1999, compared to 2.5 in 2009.

A similar pattern held for murders committed both by the womens' partners and others.

The authors said while the exact factors leading to the decrease in homicide against women remained unknown, it appeared gun control legislation could have played a role.

The authors said there was a need for government to develop policy-driven prevention interventions to help combat gender-related homicide.

Read more on:    gender equality  |  human rights

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