It was just a month ago when women’s rights were being read left, right and centre and the advocacy of the protection of women was on everyone’s tongue. A month later and it is as if there was no Women’s Month. The rate at which women’s bodies are being slaughtered is enormous and a pandemic that the whole world is facing.
Gender-based violence is a profound and widespread problem in South Africa, impacting on almost every aspect of life. GBV (which disproportionately affects women and girls) is systemic, and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in South Africa.
South Africa unfortunately, has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world. This is partly due to the myth that engaging in sexual intercourse with an infant or child will rid you of the AIDS virus. For men that are not trying to rid themselves of AIDS, and force themselves onto women and children for the sake of it or because they are trying to prove some sort of point or power, it is just as bad.
A bigger problem comes into play when these acts are not reported or spoken about. When they are swept under the rug because the victim is either made to believe that it is her fault that she got raped or because she is threatened with her life if she exposes the man for the crime he has committed. As it stands, women don’t hold a very valuable or important role in society, at least, they are made to think so. This results in self-doubt, insecure women who have very little confidence in themselves and are therefore fearful of the “superior” gender. Remaining silent about the acts of violence endured however, makes the problem all the worse, for everyone. Men don’t get to understand just how deeply they damage a women’s soul when they force themselves onto women or go on abusing them physically because they do not feel the pain of the punishment. They get away with the abuse and feel even more powerful resulting in them repeating the crime.
Some statistics of gender based violence that we all need to know:
– Whilst people of all genders perpetrate and experience intimate partner and or sexual violence, men are most often the perpetrators and women and children the victims
– Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime
– Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a women
– Prevalence estimates of rape in South Africa range between 12% and 28% of women ever reporting being raped in their lifetime
– Most men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s being raped in their lifetime
We are in the middle of a war on women’s bodies. It is crucial for all citizens, men and women, to fight this war so that the female body can be preserved, respected and treated with the dignity it deserves.