The recent reports of the repeated rape of a 10-year-old girl, allegedly facilitated by her grandmother, are yet another reminder of the crisis of violence against womxn[1] and girls. With some of the highest rates of gender based violence (GBV) and rape in the world, South Africa has failed to deal with this epidemic properly. Despite the legislative and policy framework in place to protect victims of gender based violence, the implementation of these policies is poor and those tasked with enforcement of these policies continue to fail victims of gender based violence.

Our country’s response to GBV has often only focused on individual perpetrators with very little done to understand the very complex social conditions that contribute to many men’s violent behaviour. These include our history of colonial and apartheid violence, inequality, substance abuse and deeply held patriarchal attitudes about womxn’s place in society.

As an organization dedicated to using the law to ensure the advancement of the rights to health and education, we believe that part of an adequate response to this issue is strengthening systems that are meant to protect the rights of victims and ensure that through the process of attaining justice, their dignity and other rights are not only respected but they are protected.

It is against this background that SECTION27 staff will write case studies demonstrating the extent of the problem as well as the system responses to cases of GBV. Through this we aim to shine light on the womxn – from all walks of life and of all ages – and their journeys through a system that seems to be designed for their protection but ends in further injustice, humiliation and trauma.

On the social media front – each week we will also profile a particular system (police – health – education – social services – courts) – releasing statistics (that are available) such as reporting rates, conviction rates, availability of post exposure prophylaxis and counselling services etc. This will also include a short infographic on a victim’s rights and the state’s responsibility in relation to accessing a post-violence service.

We believe that the duty to end this epidemic starts with each one of us and we must ensure that government must ensure that the system is responsive.

#FAILEDBYSYSTEMS #STILLFIGHTING

Media inquiries (Comment from SECTION27) Kirsten Whitfield 011-3564100 whitfield@section27.org.za


[1] A spelling of “women” that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve) but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color. (Urban dictionary)