Dis­re­spect feeds gen­der-based vi­o­lence

Pretoria News - - METRO -

DUR­ING this year’s 16 Days of Ac­tivism to End Vi­o­lence against Women and Chil­dren, In­de­pen­dent Me­dia con­tin­ues its #Don­tLookAway cam­paign by shin­ing a spot­light on sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Women and girls are not free to walk around their neigh­bour­hoods be­cause of the preva­lence of gen­der-based vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

A woman walk­ing alone in the streets could fall vic­tim to var­i­ous types of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence, and this af­fects the de­gree of free­dom a woman has in var­i­ous aspects of her life.

“South African women are on ‘per­pet­ual guard’ – on high alert when in pub­lic – on height­ened vig­i­lance when at home.

“Women have be­come con­di­tioned to test the ‘safety con­cerns’ when go­ing about their daily busi­ness. Is it safe to park the car here? Is it safe to walk in the park? Will I get mugged en route to my meet­ing if I take a short cut?

“The re­al­ity for women in South Africa is this: our har­row­ing statis­tics prove that it is not safe for women,” said self-de­fence prac­ti­tioner Sanette Smit, au­thor of The South African Woman’s Guide to Self De­fence.

Women and young girls be­ing tar­geted for rape in South Africa is a se­ri­ous is­sue. Ac­cord­ing to the 2016/17 vic­tims of crime statis­tics, 250 out of ev­ery 100000 women are vic­tims of sex­ual of­fences.

In com­par­i­son, the num­ber of men is 120 out of ev­ery 100000.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2016/17 po­lice statis­tics, 80% of the sex­ual of­fences re­ported were rape and with Statis­tics SA, the fig­ures show 68.5% of the vic­tims of sex­ual of­fences were women.

The Stats SA: Crime against women in SA re­port shows 138 of 100 000 women are raped and this is con­sid­ered the high­est fig­ure in the world.

“They (women) are not treated as equals and this is a se­ri­ous prob­lem. We need more ed­u­ca­tion about the ben­e­fits of gen­der eq­uity for the so­ci­ety,” said po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Ralph Mathekga.

Ac­cord­ing to AfricaCheck, the SAPS recorded 124526 cases of rape in the three years from 2014/15 to 2016/17.

In 50 988 of the cases, the vic­tims were aged 18 or younger. This ac­counted for 41% of all rapes recorded in the coun­try over the three years.

“We gen­er­ally be­lieve a lack of re­spect for women leads to sex­ual ha­rass­ment/vi­o­lence – it’s be­come the norm among dis­re­spect­ful per­pe­tra­tors, and fe­male vic­tims have reached a point of saturation. Enough is enough,” said Smit. | SUKAINA ISH­MAIL

How to show your sup­port:

* Take the pledge against sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

* Join and like “Be The Change Mzansi” on Face­book.

* Fol­low the Don’t Look Away cam­paign on IOL.

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