The Stream

#AmINext: can gender-based violence in South Africa be stopped?

Protesters urge president to impose state of emergency to tackle physical and emotional abuse of women and girls.

On Monday, September 9 at 19:30 GMT:
“Am I next?” – that’s the question women in South Africa are asking on social media following several high-profile cases of murder, abductions and rape that have sparked public anger and which has forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to publicly acknowledge their calls for a state of emergency.

Ramaphosa is under growing pressure to act following a series of popular anti-violence protests outside the venue of the World Economic Forum and the parliament building in Cape Town. A petition calling for a state of emergency to better protect women and girls has more than 450,000 signatures. The online appeal was started in the wake of the rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old University of Cape Town student. She was found dead days after she went to a local post office to collect a parcel. Prosecutors say a postal worker told Mrwetyana to pick up her item later in the day, and attacked her when she returned. In another high-profile case, Leighandre Jegels, a women’s boxing champion, was shot dead by her former partner in Cape Town. On the same day, Jesse Hess, a theology student and youth leader, was found dead from a separate attack in the coastal city.

In an address to the nation on Thursday, Ramaphosa did not formally invoke the state of emergency demanded by protesters but called violence against women and girls “a crime against our common humanity”. He said he will ask parliament to consider making a national register of gender-based violence offenders public, and pledged to propose harsher minimum sentences for those guilty of such crimes. But with South Africa holding the world’s fourth-highest murder rate of females, based on 2016 figures from the World Health Organization, will those measures be enough to guarantee the safety of women and girls?

In the first of two episodes looking at major issues facing South Africa this week, we’ll look at the scourge of gender-based violence plaguing the country and what is needed to eradicate it. Join the conversation.


On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:


Mandisa Khanyile @Ezamission
Director of Rise Up Against Gender Based Violence
Rise Up Against Gender Based Violence


Yolanda Dyantyi @YoliShade
Feminist activist and co-executive director of The Archive: Amabali Wethu
The Archive: Amabali Wethu


Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane @Mr_Mokgoroane
Social justice and gender activist


Read more:
She Protested Against Campus Rape Culture After Being Sexually Assaulted. Then Her School Banned Her For Life. – BuzzFeed News
Survivors of gender-based violence fight to be heard – Mail & Guardian

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