Despite the promise in our constitution of a new society in which women would be guaranteed equality as well as freedom from discrimination and abuse, South Africa in 2015 still has one of the highest rates of rape in the world. 2013 statistics say that three women are killed by their own partners every day of the year. Thus we have had recently a woman sjambokked to death by her partner and ANCYL comrade, a retired military officer killing his wife with a hand grenade, a father reacting to conflict with his wife by killing their four sons, a businessman accused of arranging his wife's murder after taking out a large insurance policy on her.
These are the front-page widely-reported cases in Gauteng. A search of provincial and local newspapers will reveal many more, while others may well go unreported. Despite having a Ministry dedicated to gender (specifically women's) issues, despite there being a Chapter Nine institution focusing on gender issues, despite the presence of the ANC Women's League and other women's organisations, the abuse of women and girl children continues.
What is stopping women in their communities from taking a bolder stance on these issues? Women make up more than 50% of the population, and there are many men who are not sexist or patriarchal and would themselves support steps taken to address this cancer eating away in our society. What is needed is a groundswell of resistance from ordinary people who should be demanding that the SAPS, their ward councillors, their municipalities and other agencies of the state commit themselves to systematically and consistently confront this issue, instead of patting themselves on the back every year when they hold the 16 days that they dedicate to it every December.
There are no easy answers. But it is important for people in community to begin to ask the questions and to work together to find solutions.