3 women are killed by their male partners in SA daily and we have the world’s highest rate of rape – we need more than slogans and summits

Sadness of a woman in the dark
Sadness of a woman in the dark

According to the Oxford dictionary femicide is the 'killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender'.

The meaning of the word is disturbing enough, but that there is a specific word for this type of crime is infuriating. Women get killed everyday and we hear this word everyday because it is a mammoth problem in our society. 

Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old girl child was raped and murdered in cold-blood, reportedly by a 42-year-old man. It's femicide and it's all far too common. Uyinene is one of hundreds of thousands of women and girls who have lost their lives just because they are women. The news of this young girl's senseless murder has brought the country to a standstill - but it is disturbing that just last year Sandile Mantsoe who killed his then 22-year-old girlfriend Karabo Mokoena was convicted of this killing and the cycle continues. 

It is evident, all the hashtags in the world, summits and slogans have not been able to change the narrative that women and children's lives don't matter. We are raped, killed and abused - everyday. Will it ever end?

Addressing gender-based violence and femicide is at risk of failure unless mechanisms to track the true extent of the problem and the effectiveness of the strategies are in place, says  Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, Development Economist at the University of Stellenbosch Business School and contributor to the 2019 South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) Women’s Report, themed Women and Politics.

Nthabiseng, a Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality, says institutions and resources that already exist should be used better, coordinated and monitored, rather than creating new and overlapping institutions.

READ MORE: What we've learnt from the Gender-based Violence and Femicide Summit

Pointing to the failure to implement resolutions of previous gender summits, she warns against “the creation of a web of institutional mechanisms, which, if not properly established, will only lead to duplication and overlapping of roles, and ineffective use of 

She acknowledges that gender-based violence “affects the very fabric of our society”.

“It is not simply a phenomenon that occurs at home, it leaves traces across society and costs the nation dearly through a loss of productivity, a rise in absenteeism, and social grant dependence.

READ MORE: Heterosexual men in red lipstick will not put an end to violence against women and children

“Further reliance on the state for health care support, policing and judicial resources, social protection, and insurance places greater demands on already limited state resources. The loss suffered by individual women and children is immeasurable, and not something anyone should be forced to suffer in a civilised society,” she says

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) had found that South Africa had the world’s highest rate of rape, estimated at 138 rapes per 100,000 women in 2017, she said.

“The statistics point towards a government and society crippled by an inability to protect women and, especially concerning, children. We clearly need to develop more than just reactive slogans and media responses to the incidence of such systemic violations and tragedies. The emphasis should rather be on monitoring the effectiveness and impact of interventions,” she says.

READ MORE: AT A GLANCE: SA has the highest number of reported rape cases in SA

Her recommendations for ensuring that violence against women is curbed include:

1. A national gender monitoring framework be developed and implemented by the Ministry for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities in liaison with Statistics South Africa, to gather data on budget expenditure and allocation of resources. The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency should oversee this process.

2. Measuring the effectiveness of key institutions should be done by the state.

3. Information available to the National Treasury on the allocation of expenditure on women and women-owned companies, needs to be collated into provincial and sectoral levels to determine trends within economic nodes.

4. The South African Police Service should record the prevalence of Gender Based Violence and violence against women as a stand-alone crime category in order to measure the true extent of this crime.

Sadly, we see summit after summit but the deaths and abuse of women remain a daily occurrence in this country, can we claim to be a civilized nation when our women are not safe? Who is next? Me? You? Share your thoughts with us here.

Compiled by Nthabi Nhlapo (updated).

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