Thursday 12 December 2019

'There is a tolerance and acceptance of abuse against women in South Africa'

Jason Kennedy

Since Reeva Steenkamp was killed, around 1,338 women have lost their lives at the hands of an intimate male partner in South Africa.

Three women are killed every day by their partners every day in the country, according to statistics from 2009, which is five times higher than the international average.

"Woman wouldn't be particularly safe at the hands of their partners," according to Lisa Vetten, researcher at University of the Witwatersrand.

"I would actually say there's a degree of tolerance and acceptance [when it comes to gender violence]. You can hear it in those who say 'yes, well look at the state of those women who get dressed in their short skirts and they go out drinking by themselves late at night. What do you expect?'"

Ms Vetten said that people who still shrug off domestic abuse as women "speak out of turn" or "don't know her place" condone violence and generate a culture of acceptance.

"I think there is a measure of complacency as we see things happening, but we don't do anything about it. There is so much violence that goes on in South Africa, but what are the practical solutions about what you can do about it? For that reason, a lot of people would prefer to simply ignore it because they simply don't know what to do," she said.

Over the last ten years, the figures for rape, domestic violence and intimate femicide have remained static, with no dramatic increase or decrease.

"What we've got now is probable the way it's going to be," Ms Vetten said.

Despite worldwide scrutiny on South Africa after the Oscar Pistorius case brought the country's stark abuse statistics to a much larger audience, Ms Vetten says the case will have no lasting impact on the way SA's society operates.

"It would be hard to see what kind of change it could bring about. There have been no calls for change to policy or to legislation or to practice," she said.

"It will be something that we'll all talk about while the trial is on,  but I strongly suspect once the trial is over, we'll all move on to some other scandal or matter of interest."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News