THE BLOG
01/06/2018 06:03 SAST | Updated 01/06/2018 06:03 SAST

It Is Not Safe To Be A Woman In South Africa

'I truly don't feel that the justice system is doing enough to protect us.'

idildemir/ Getty Images

I am livid. When did it become normal to go on Twitter and expect to see at least one missing person alert or a trending tweet about yet another female being brutally murdered at the hands of her loved one?

Women and girls are being kidnapped and murdered, and all most of us can do is join in on a hashtag and hope for the best. I truly don't feel that the justice system is doing enough to protect us, and the efforts that go into ensuring justice for victims don't seem to be prioritised. We have murderers roaming our streets disguised as boyfriends, husbands, friends, brothers, fathers and uncles, yet we're expected to feel safe. It is not safe to be a woman in South Africa.

Here are some shocking statistics about the femicide rate in South Africa, and the rate at which girls and women go missing [quoted from Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa]:

"Did you know that South Africa has the highest femicide rate in the world? One that is five times higher than the average global rate. That means that a woman is killed every eight hours, and at least half of these murders are at the hands of an intimate partner. "

I was unable to find statistics on the rate at which women and girls go missing in South Africa, but Africa Check confirmed that a child goes missing every nine hours. There hasn't been a single day over the past three weeks, at least, that I personally haven't seen a missing person alert on social media. If these statistics do not call for a state of emergency, I don't know what will. How many more children, girls and women need to go missing or be killed before adequate security and justice measures are implemented?

I was (still am) beyond enraged by the recent murder of Zolile Khumalo, a 21-year-old MUT student, who had broken up with her ex-boyfriend, who will appear in court on June 19 for a formal bail application. I sat in disbelief as I read his Facebook posts, one in which he had the nerve to say that she died before he could forgive her!

One thing I know for sure is that if your partner raises his hand to you once, he will surely do it again, so perhaps the best option is to address or remove yourself from the situation as soon as this happens, instead of hoping that 'he won't do it again'.

I am speechless at the insensitivity and callousness of his behaviour. Another thing that I've picked up is the unapologetic attitude and indifference of murderers throughout the trial process. How can you smile while you're on trial for murdering a person you supposedly loved? I think it's absolutely disgusting, and I am angered that there is news of another femicide case every single day.

I also want to address the misconception about the options available to women who find themselves in abusive relationships. Initially, I was of one the many misguided people who thought that if women find themselves in abusive relationships or compromising situations with men, they have the choice to walk away.

I now realise that it is not easy to simply walk away. In fact, you stay and you are abused to death, or you leave — and you still die at the hands of a man — trash — whose ego makes him feel entitled to your life.

This is clearly a prevalent challenge in South Africa, and the law needs to be amended to protect such women. One thing I know for sure is that if your partner raises his hand to you once, he will surely do it again, so perhaps the best option is to address or remove yourself from the situation as soon as this happens, instead of hoping that "he won't do it again". Clearly, he will — and he'll probably go on to murder you too.

I am feeling a number of emotions at this moment, but the one that stands out the most is anger. How did we get to this point? Why isn't the justice system doing anything to fix the situation? I refuse to believe that I am the only person who thinks that the femicide in our country is a state of emergency, and that it should be treated as such.

We girls and women cannot live every day in fear of being kidnapped, raped or murdered, least of all by people we call brothers, uncles, fathers, guardians. We cannot carry on like this and something needs to be done ASAP.