South Africa: We Must Not Forget About Sexual and Gender-Based Violence


What makes sexual and gender-based violence committed in South Africa particularly disturbing is that the stats are among the highest among states not in the throes of armed conflict.

Following the euphoria of the Springboks winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the words of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, were chilling. During the Springboks' visit to the National Assembly last week, the Speaker welcomed them by stating that their victory made South Africans "forget gender-based violence".

These words were uttered in the same week that the rapist and murderer of Uyinene Mrwetyana was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment plus five years. It was Uyinene's brutal death in August 2019 that saw an upsurge in public furore over rates of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in South Africa, and demands that the government take concrete action against the scourge.

Such demands have long been made by civil society movements such as Stop Gender Violence: A National Campaign and The Total Shutdown: Intersectional Womin's Movement Against GBV. The former was established in 2014 and is a national coalition of civil society organisations working together to end gender-based violence. It presented the government with a shadow "National Strategic...

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