Anti-violence protestors in South Africa demand government and business response to the rising violence against women, saying the government is issuing empty promises to help women.
As protestors are gathered outside parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, the government says changes are coming. President Cyril Ramaphosa has cancelled his trip to the United Nations to “concentrate on critical domestic matters,” according a statement his office released. Possible new laws could be coming, but protestors feel that new legislation will not change the culture of violence. Studies show that factors that contribute to violence against women include “unemployment, inequality, and poverty,” all of which would not be helped by the proposed legislation.
The statements that have been made by the government thus far have been met with negative responses. These statements are “just like normal speeches that they make. He’s not giving practical steps,” said Zinhle Gluk, a university student who attended the protests. In addition to demands to the government, protestors have gathered around the city’s financial capital demanding that wealthy businesses help with funding and support to combat the violence.
The protests were sparked by the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered in August by a government employee named Luyanda Botha. Botha reported to the police that he “struggled” to lure and kill Mrwetyana behind a post office. Women are rallying behind this story with signs asking, “Am I Next?” One attendee, Mbalenhle Hlungwane, said “I never thought walking from the bus stop to school could be so dangerous until I heard what happened to Uyinene … Now I have to look three times behind my shoulder. I have to make sure my skirt is tugged lower down my legs so that no man can perv on me.”
Violence against women is a growing epidemic in South Africa. According to Aljazeera, the South African police recently released their official crime report showing that the South African murder rate is now 58 people a day. It was also reported that incidents of sexual violence and assault have increased 4.6 percent since the 2017-18 financial year. Additionally, the World Health Organization in 2016 reported South Africa to have the fourth-highest female interpersonal death rate of any country.
Sources: Aljazeera 9/13/19, Mail & Guardian 9/4/19