Tipping Point: Can South Africa and India End Systematic Violence Against Women?

Women demonstration


As the world keeps its eyes on India and anticipates the government to act quickly to create a more equal society where women are treated on equal footing to men, a girl’s gang-rape and murder in South Africa also triggered political outrage.

According to statistics, on average, a woman is raped every four minutes in South Africa. The brutal gang-rape and horrific mutilation of the 17 year old Anene Booysen outraged the nation and triggered protests against a culture of systematic violence against women and children. However, rights group complain that rape has become normalised in South African society and better education about and greater penalties for sexual assaults are needed.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: “It is time to ask the tough questions that for too long we have avoided. We live in a deeply patriarchal and injured society where the rights of women are not respected. Indeed, there is a silent war against the children and women of this country – and we need all South Africans to unite in the fight against it.”

Radio stations across South Africa interrupted broadcasts with a chime every four minutes between 6am and 6pm last Friday to symbolize the women and children raped each day. In 2010-2011, an average of 154 rapes a day was recorded in South Africa, more than double the rate in India.

President Jacob Zuma called on the courts to “impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society.”

Childline spokesman Joan van Niekerk said that politicians are very good at making speeches and campaigns that make no difference. He went on to say:

“So we want to see action. We want to see changes in the application of the law and we want to see further reform of our Sexual Offences Act. We need better-trained police, further law reform and the application of laws that have been passed.”

More importantly, what South Africa and India need is a change of attitude towards women and instating women as equal to men in order to tackle the root causes of this pandemic of sexual violence.







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