This week, Women in South Africa took to the streets to protest against rape and the femicide crisis. The protests were triggered by the killing of University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. Mrwetyana was raped and murdered by a post office worker when she went to the post office to collect a parcel.
Mrwetyana’s murder happened around the same time as the killing of a University of Western Cape student, Jesse Hess; boxing champion Leighandre Jegels; 14-year-old girl, Janika Mallo, Meghan Cremer and Lynette Volschenk. The murder of these women sparked outrage that led to women protesting to also put pressure on the government.
Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said in a statement: “Gender-based violence has reached undeniably alarming levels in South Africa. It is absolutely unacceptable that women feel they have to watch what they wear in public and be careful about where they are seen socializing, for fear that they may face violent reprisals including rape or even death.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimate of 12.1 out of 100,000 women are victims of femicide in South Africa each year. This figure is five times worse than the global average of 2.6 victims every 100,000.
The definition of femicide has not been precisely set. However, according to WHO: “violence against women comprises a wide range of acts – from verbal harassment and other forms of emotional abuse, to daily physical or sexual abuse. At the far end of the spectrum is femicide: the murder of a woman.” Additionally, “while our understanding of femicide is limited, we know that a large proportion of femicides are of women in violent relationships, and are committed by current or former partners,” explained WHO.
Social Media Role
Social media has played a big role in the mobilization of all women angered by these incidents. Many also went to Twitter to call on the president to do something about it. On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa listed a number of measures that the state will take to address the cases of female rape and murder. “Men that kill and rape must stay in jail for life,” said President Ramaphosa. He also added that there should be no bail or parole for this kind of offenders.
Celebrities such as Charlize Theron took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the increasing rates of femicide crisis in South Africa. Theron called out the system for failing women and the leaders for turning a blind eye in her home country. Theron also pleaded with South African men saying: “To the men in my home country – please protect our women. STAND UP. SPEAK UP. Do not be bystanders. Call out your fellow man when you see him going down a dangerous path. You have the power to change this.”