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Why Gender-Based Violence is So Prevalent in South Africa (And How To End It)

Why Gender-Based Violence is So Prevalent in South Africa (And How To End It)

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa in June lamented the “culture of silence around gender-based violence” in the country after a “surge” in murders of women and children.

The country now faces two pandemics, Covid-19 and the violence against women and children that has risen sharply, he said as he announced further easing of lockdown measures on June 17.

21 women and children were been killed since the sales of alcohol resumed and the economy reopened further at the start of the month, he said. Ramaphosa did not give comprehensive data on the jump in overall violent crime since June 1, when alcohol sales returned and South Africans lined up to buy, but he said cases of abuse of women and children have “increased dramatically.”

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country: the killing of women and children by the men of our country,” he said, calling it a “brutality that defies any form of comprehension,” he said.

South Africa has long had a serious problem with such violence, but Ramaphosa drew a direct connection between it and alcohol abuse.
“Of course, it is not alcohol that rapes or kills woman or a child, rather it is the actions of the men of our country,” he said, adding “we need to draw lessons from this lockdown and protect our society from the abuse of alcohol.”

Amnesty International’s Executive Director in South Africa Shenilla Mohamed told Bloomberg the levels of gender-based violence in South Africa, before the pandemic, were among the worst in the world. Mohamed said low levels of prosecution and improving police investigations are an important short-term remedy. In the long-term, South Africa as a society will need to figure out how to heal from historical and contemporary trauma before substantial progress will be seen, she said.

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