The rise of gender-based violence (GBV) during the lockdown in South Africa has been a heart-piercing and painful reminder that femicide is, indeed, a war against women. As our president Cyril Ramaphosa put it, we are indeed currently facing two pandemics – COVID-19 and femicide. Each day, as I see a headline of yet another woman killed at the hands of a partner, family member or stranger, I feel hope slipping away from me as femicide rates increase. Am I next? This is a fear we all live with, and what I can do to protect my fellow sisters.
How long are we going to shout, protest, write articles or start hashtag movements before our men realise that no form of violence towards a woman is ever acceptable or okay? That the government and law enforcement are taking swift action during this time to protect women is a glimmer of hope.
But, so much more is needed to reduce the climbing number of daily cases, and to make women feel like they can take a jog or walk without having to notify friends of their location, or can dress however they want to without fear of harassment. I am hurt and in pain; I struggle to grasp the femicide in South Africa, but am holding on to hope, joining women in protests and movements to fight for our beautiful lives.