117% spike in femicide sparks call for action
Stats SA’s report, Crime Against Women in South Africa, found that about 70 813 women experienced sexual offences in 2016/17.
In 2015/16, the report had found that 31665 experienced sexual offences. This was a 53% increase in sexual offences, which Stats SA said was drastic in less than 24 months.
Speaking at the Young Women dialogue by the Department of Women, President Cyril Ramaphosa made commitments to prioritise the fight against gender-based violence.
“We must set up a council at a high level to raise the issue of gender-based violence.
“The killing and raping of women is putting us to shame globally and we must address it in a way that empowers young men to raise their level of consciousness.
“We have become gender sensitive and we want to do good by the women of our country. We must address the issue of gender-based violence, we must address it as hard as we are fighting corruption.
“Women bear the brunt of everything that is negative in the country and they should be recognised as nation builders. If you ever wanted to find a nation builder, look no further, look at the women of our country and you will see nation builders,” he said. Ramaphosa called on South Africans, particularly men, to honour women as they take responsibility for nation building.
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) spokesperson Javu Baloyi said they had been staggered by the Stats SA report and had been engaging with government and civil society organisations.
“We are happy that the president has responded to us positively to say we need to establish a National Council of Gender Violence to deal decisively with issues of gender and sexual violence, femicide and other related offences.
“We believe that this establishment of a council is long overdue.The council will do research to understand the root of the problems and criminal elements.
“We hope and believe the president will fulfil the promise of prioritising gender-based violence similarly to other issues such as HIV/Aids, TB and cash-in-transit heists.
“As a country we have been making noise about this issue for a long time. We need to also look at the country’s judicial system, the systemic issue of offering bail to people and repeat offenders,” Baloyi said.
Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said: “These figures are testimony to the lack of urgency to adequately address violence against women and girls in South African. It should be a further wake-up call for those in decision-making positions to act decisively to address this pandemic - failure to do so will see a continuation of similar trends.”
Gender violence researcher Lisa Vetten said: “It is crucial to have this data because violence doesn’t stay the same. Some women don’t report, meaning there is a high possibility that the numbers are even higher than this.
“We also want to find out if the significant jump of the numbers in this crime is by people women know, or is it strangers?”