South Africa’s Rape Culture

It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and that only 1 in 4 rapes are reported. The shame that encourages victims’ silence, the reluctance to report a crime out of fear of reprisals, and the inefficiency of the police to effectively investigate a report are all common place.

A culture of rape permeates every social strata and grouping in South Africa, from infant rape, children and teenagers, wives and girlfriends (intimate partner violence) and ‘corrective rape’ (against members of the LGBTQ+ community). There is no safe space for women and girls. Whether in their homes, schools, places of work or worship, in town centres or in the street. The hashtag #AmINext started trending on Twitter last week, with South African women expressing their fear at the high rate of femicide in the country. And this is the reason why.

19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana, went missing on August 24, and many women across the country spent the week expressing concern on social media and supporting the search for her. South Africa is once again mourning the loss of another daughter, after it was confirmed in court that the University of Cape Town student had been raped and murdered. Her body was later dumped.

Her attacker is a 42 year old Black man, and an employee of the local Post Office, where Uyinene went to fetch a package, but didn’t have enough money. Her attacker told her to come back at 2:00 PM, whereas the Post Office closes at 1:00 PM on Saturdays.

According to Police documents, Uyinene was alone with her attacker, and sustained head injuries and signs of sexual violence.

The South African government reports that one of the reasons rape is so prevalent, is the culture of patriarchy in South Africa. They state that patriarchy is firmly rooted in Black culture and fighting it is seen as attempting to destroy South African tradition or South African ideals.

I beg to differ. Without the safety, dignity, education, empowerment and protection  of women, there is no tradition or ideals to speak of.

Let me know what  you think about the epidemic of sexual violence and abuse against women and girls, not only in South Africa, but globally. From #MeToo to #AmINext, our bodes are under constant attack with no legal protections in sight.

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