Earlier this month, a seventeen year-old woman was brutally gang-raped in Bredasdorp, South Africa. The victim, Anene Booysen, had been raped by multiple men and then mutilated and abandoned. Despite medical efforts, she died of her extensive injuries this past weekend. Booysen’s aunt said that she lived long enough to identify a family friend as one of the attackers. The attack has gained local and national attention, with many taking to the streets in protest of South Africa’s high rate of violence against women.
South African president Jacob Zuma made a statement on the crime: “The whole nation is outraged at this extreme violation and destruction of a young human life…[t]his act is shocking, cruel and most inhumane. It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children.” The Associated Press notes that Zuma himself was embroiled (but acquitted) in the rape of a friend’s daughter in 2005.
Concerned citizens marched through Bredasdorp this weekend chanting “No more violence!” Lindiwe Mazibuko, a member of Parliament, said she will throw into motion public hearings and debates on the issue of deeply ingrained patriarchy and its relation to sexual violence.
Talk Radio 702, a popular radio station in South Africa, now plays a chime sound every four minutes to represent how often a woman or child is raped in the nation. South Africa is home to one of the highest rates of rape in the world. From 2010-2011, over 56,000 rapes were reported in South Africa, averaging about 154 a day. Around 71% of women report being sexually assaulted according to CNN.
South Africa is not the only country that has seen extreme cases of violence against women gain international attention recently. In December, the violent gang-rape of a medical student in India that resulted in her death led to international outcry. As a result, the Indian government recently approved stricter punishments for sexual assault. The trial of her attackers is currently underway.