When South Africa was liberated from apartheid, our first Parliament committed to transforming an authoritarian state into an accountable, participatory, and transparent democracy.
This meant new laws, a new Constitution, and reformed institutions that would take into account, amongst other things, nonsexism, the rights of queer people, and women’s rights – the right to dignity, privacy, and equality. The right not to be discriminated against based on sex, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or marital status.
The right to security of person.
The right to life.
Fast forward to 2019 and women, girls, transgendered, and gender-nonconforming people spend every day living in fear as these rights are threatened, violated, and in some cases, taken away completely.
By the way, ‘womxn’ is a more inclusive term that also recognises transwomen, and will be used when talking about the collective from this point onwards.
Recent government statistics report that the murder rate for womxn in South Africa is five times higher than the global average.
South Africa has also been labelled the “rape capital of the world” due to the high number of reported rapes every year.
The statistics that earned this country that title are even more terrifying if you consider that a majority of rapes go unreported due to fear of persecution, and a broken system made up of a failing police force and a judiciary that in some cases dishes out lenient sentences, if any sentence at all, to rapists.
UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana went to the Clareinch post office in Claremont. There, she was bludgeoned with a scale, raped, and killed by a postal worker, less than 100 metres from a police station.
Jesse Hess was murdered in her home.
Boxing champion Leighandre Jegels was shot and killed by her boyfriend, a police officer.
To be clear, this is not an isolated incident – here’s the Daily Maverick:
At least 55 rape complaints against police officers were investigated in the six months between April to September 2018, according to the 2018/19 annual report of the police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). This is six more than over the same period in 2017.
Of the 55 rapes by police officers, 32 were by off-duty policemen and 23 happened when the policemen were on duty, up by 5%, according to the IPID report.
55 rape complaints against police officers in South Africa IN SIX MONTHS. When you victim-blame and ask why more womxn don’t come forward, remember that.
Also, let this sink in:
Police recorded 177,620 reported crimes against women in the 2017/18 financial year that ended 31 March 2019, according to the latest available SAPS annual report.
These statistics list 36,731 sexual offences, including rape, assault and the murder of 2,930 women, which was up by 11%, from 2,639 murders of women in the 2016/17 financial year.
Almost 3 000 murders. As Sipho Masondo writes for City Press, “South African men – all of us men – have declared open season on women and children”.
Across the country, womxn are asking #AmINext, and sharing harrowing stories about the constant fear of wondering if today is the day that they have violence enacted upon their bodies.
“Violence and abuse against women have no place in our society. Govt is calling on women to speak out, and not allow themselves to become victims by keeping quiet. Women who speak out are able to act, eﬀect change and help others,” the tweet read.
The tweet was met with anger, and rightly so. Victims of gender-based violence do not ‘”allow” themselves to become victims. They become victims when their basic human rights are grossly violated.
The uncomfortable truth is that the majority of crimes committed against womxn are carried out by men. Gender-based violence happens at a rate that has made the simple act of navigating daily life a high-stakes gamble for womxn, girls, transgendered and gender-nonconforming people in South Africa.
This jarring statement speaks to a society where life for more than 29 million womxn – for 51% of the country – has become unliveable.
For this reason, we will not be conducting business, as usual, today at 2oceansvibe. Instead, we will be standing in solidarity with the victims of gender-based violence.
At 10:30AM, people will gather outside Parliament to demand change, and we will join them.
This is not just a show of discontent. A protest is a hopeful event because it assumes that we live in a country that can be held accountable, can accept accountability, can alter its structure, can be better and do better.
If you’d like to add your voice to the protest at Parliament, you can find the details by following this link.
For those men that can’t make it, here’s a thought. Take the 10 minutes you might have spent reading our site today and talk to the womxn in your life about their daily, lived experience of what it’s like for them in this country.
Ask what you can do to improve the situation going forward – what you can do and change to become an active, participatory ally – and listen with an open, non-defensive mindset. When you hear somebody talking about #NotAllMen, remember that so much of the violence perpetrated against womxn is carried out by men that they know, and maybe men that you know, too.
Every man needs to be an active part of the solution, and this is just the start.
There will be more marches and protests in the days and weeks to come – the March to end Femicide in South Africa, which takes place on September 21, is an option – so keep up to speed with what’s happening and remain engaged, because there is so much work that lies ahead.
We will be back tomorrow.
[imagesource:here] There’s nothing quite like an EskomSePush notification to remind y...
[imagesource:here] I've always been a bit of a ‘pinner man’, myself. You know, thos...
You have to love a four-day week. Yes indeed, it's Thursday, and thus time to reminisce...
[imagesource: Getty] Sigh. A couple in America recently purchased a family home in S...
[imagesource: @AdrianEphraim / Twitter] The Hout Bay community has rallied around effor...