Total Shutdown March: Twitter
August has become a symbolic month for women in South Africa. However, while men (particularly) have painted this month as a “celebration” of women’s struggles and refer to them as “rocks”, it is becoming evident that the women of this country do not necessarily feel the same.
Just a few days ago, the world saw the #TotalShutDown mass action women’s protests throughout South Africa and in some neighbouring countries, in which women said they’d had enough. Women and gender non-conforming individuals took to the streets to alert the greater public that gender based violence is an issue that needs urgent attention in this country.
To further understand the scale of the problem and the concerns raised by women and gender non-conformists on the violence perpetrated against them, here are some quick facts on femicide and violence in South Africa.
1. According to Africheck, between April and December 2016, police recorded 1,713 murders of women.
2. This works out to a woman being murdered every four hours in South Africa, compared to the previously well-known claim that a woman is murdered every eight hours in the country.
3. Out of 2,363 estimated cases, police could identify the perpetrator in only 1792 cases, with more than 50% of the murders committed by intimate partners.
4. South Africa’s femicide rate is five times than the global rate. “The estimated global rate of femicide for 2015 was 2.4 per 100,000 women. South Africa’s rate for the same year was 9.6 per 100,000 women,” according to Africheck.
5. Lesbian and transgender women are one of the most vulnerable targets of violence in communities, especially in rural and peri-urban settings, with 35% and 8% of reported cases belonging to these two groups respectively.
6. While women only represent 10% of gun homicide victims in South Africa, firearms are said to play a significant role in the violence against women. 68% of women who are victims of gun homicide are killed with a single shot, most often to the head and face.
While current police statistics on violence against women and the marginalised are limited, recent media reports on murders and rape suggest that the country is manifesting massive levels of violence that need to be addressed thoroughly and urgently.