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Women in South Africa: Ten years later, not much has changed

Any form of violence against women (physical, sexual, psychological) represents a violation of their human rights and dignity.

In October 2016, the Sonke Gender Justice group asked: “How many more people need to be violated, assaulted and murdered before our government takes the scourge of gender-based violence seriously?”

In theory, South Africa has excellent regulations to support the empowerment of women, promote gender equality and oppose oppression and all forms of violence against females. The South African Constitution forbids any form of discrimination. The Commission for Gender Equality, a Chapter 9 institution, “must promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality”. Moreover, there is also a Ministry of Women.

Women and their achievements are celebrated, and strategies to overcome the hurdles they encounter are highlighted, during the month of August. There is also the UN-driven initiative, “from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world”.

However, these have been largely ceremonial, mechanical, technical, tick-box exercises with little impact. According to the latest data from StatsSA, 21% (one in five) women have been victims of violence in South Africa. According to police records, between April and December 2016 “14,333 people were murdered in South Africa and there were 37,630 sexual offences”. At least 40% of women were victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), according to studies conducted by the SA Medical Council.

Furthermore, the MRC estimates that, on average, three women are killed daily by their partners. According to KPMG (no longer sure about the reliability of data from this company), “gender-based violence cost between 0.9% and 1.3% of…

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