NGO: Men are literally getting away with murder

2015-05-01 12:38

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Cape Town - Violence against South African women remains a problem because of power imbalances and the perception that there will be no consequences for criminal behaviour, Sonke Gender Justice said on Thursday.

“There is an element of impunity because, in most cases, the perpetrators know they can literally get away with murder,” spokesperson Mbuyiselo Botha told News24.

He said many male perpetrators perceived they would not be successfully prosecuted because witnesses would be afraid to speak up or they would be released because police had “botched” the investigation.

Power imbalances

“A deep-seated issue is power imbalances, where it is still very prevalent around the world and here for women to be on the receiving end of violence. Women are still considered as not fully-fledged human beings.”

Sonke Gender Justice is a non-governmental organisation focused on supporting men and boys in taking action to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and Aids.

Botha said there was a perception that only certain races and classes committed crime, or were victims of crime.

“… The assumption is that these murders and violence happen in other race groups and it does not happen in white areas and well-off communities,” he said.

“If we are to deal decisively with violence, it is very critical to say: how do we also work with class and race?”

High profile cases

The country had seen a number of prominent cases of violence against women hit the headlines.

These included Paralympian Oscar Pistorius receiving five years in jail for culpable homicide after shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead, and the clearing of British businessman Shrien Dewani for the murder of his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010.

The latest murder to go viral was that of Eastern Cape teacher Jayde Panayiotou, who was abducted outside her home last week.

Police ruled out robbery as the motive and arrested two men, one of whom is said to be a close relative.

Economic impact

Last year, Sonke Gender Justice commissioned a KPMG report on the economic impact of gender-based violence in South Africa, looking at the cost suffered by female victims, the government, civil society and businesses.

Researchers could not fully assess the costs because the country lacked sufficient or adequate data, but came up with estimates based on prevalence rates of violence against women between 20 and 30 percent.

The report estimated that this type of violence cost between R28.4 billion and R35.4bn, representing up to 1.1% of the gross domestic product in 2012.

The majority of the cost was borne by the victim.

Many women never get their name published in stories and are simply referred to by their age and where they were killed or their body discovered.

Less prominent stories to hit the headlines this year include:

- A man allegedly shooting his ex-fiancee dead at her place of work in Garsfontein, Pretoria, this week.
- A Diepkloof man arrested after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend multiple times at a tavern in March.
- A man who killed himself after shooting his estranged wife’s lover in Centurion in March.
- An Mpumalanga man who was arrested in January after allegedly killing his girlfriend and burying her body in his vegetable garden.
- A man who shot his wife dead before killing himself at the Parkview police station in Johannesburg in January.

Read more on:    sonke gender justice network  |  crime  |  domestic violence

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