Shuga is a TV show that I always get excited to watch everytime a new season comes on. It’s first season was videotaped in Kenya, and it was how Lupita Nyong’o got her first main acting role. Ever since then, it has changed countries, jumping from Nigeria to South Africa. Pretty soon a new season will be filmed in Coite D’voire. It touches on the issues a lot of people of color face, such as discrimination, finding oneself, relationship problems, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But what really caught my eye was The Down South Season 1 , which depicted life for youth in South Africa. And what really broke my heart ( although the story was fictional) was how a young 15 year old character Tsholo (pictured in first image, image credit: MTV Shuga) dies after being in a abusive relationship with 24 year old neighborhood taxi driver Sol. It moved me to research a trending topic called Femicide. Global Americans states South Africa as the 3rd country in the world to have a “very high” rate of femicide, with El Salvador taking the lead. What exactly is femicide? Why is it such a huge problem in South Africa? And what can be done to prevent it?
The Meaning of Femicide
The spectrum of violence is a long one. It can start off as just a verbal insult, grow into physical assault , and explode into murder. Femicide is the actual killing of women.
The World Health Organization has this to say about femicide: “Femicide is usually perpetrated by men, but sometimes female family members may
be involved. Femicide differs from male homicide in specific ways. For example, most
cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse
in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have
less power or fewer resources than their partner.”
There are different types of femicide:
- Intimate femicide– A murder of a woman by their own current or former husband or boyfriend. An ongoing study by WHO found out that over 35% of femicides are committed by the persons own current or former intimate partner.
- Murders in the name of honour- ” ‘Honour’-related murders involve a girl or woman being killed by a male or female family member for an actual or assumed sexual or behavioural transgression, including adultery, sexual intercourse or pregnancy outside marriage – or even for being raped . Often the perpetrators see this femicide as a way to protect family reputation, to follow tradition or to adhere to wrongly interpreted religious demands. Murders in the name of ‘honour’ may also be used to cover up cases of incest .” -WHO Organization. Wow. So to cover up a crime like rape or incest that was not even the females fault, some families decide its just best to kill off the woman , so the family’s reputation can be “protected”. Very barbaric and sickening.
- Dowry-related femicide- This is when a conflict involving the bride price enrages the in-laws so much, to the extent that one of them decides to just kill off the newly married woman.
- Non-intimate femicide- When a female is killed that has had no relationship with the man. It usually happens after sexual aggression. It is random and is sometimes done by a creepy stalker or a secret admiring psychopath.
Why Is Femicide Such A Huge Problem In South Africa ?
The South Africa Police collected data that shows that a woman is murdered every 3 hours in South Africa. Nationally this is 4.8 times the global average rate.
Image Credit: MatieMedia
The Institute For Security Studies explanation is understandable. It points to apartheid as one of the main reasons why violence in South Africa is at an all-time high. With so many years of inequality and abuse of power on their plate, many South Africans have no reasons to respect the law. And to this day, the European race still holds most of the power and wealth in South Africa. Much of the poorer class, which is comprised mostly of blacks , in this day and age still do not have access to psychologists or lawyers who will fairly fight for them. Although wrong, what usually happens when a man who has carried the weight of stress and trauma has nowhere to turn? They unleash their pain on a woman. And just one blow can become fatal.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Femicide?
Increase Education, Intervention and Research
The more men that become informed of these horrifying statistics, the more awareness it will bring to the situation. It can move many SA men to be on the lookout for potential violent situations. If you see a female neighbor that is bruised, try to figure out what is going on. A lot of protests are going on with women marching the streets, but more men need to be involved.
Restrict Gun Ownership And Increase Gun Laws
Guns should only be used for hunting animals only. (That is my opinion, and I am sticking to it.) The government needs to enforce stricter gun laws so that a lot of deaths can be prevented. If guns have to be seized, then so be it.
Train And Sensitize Health Staff/Police
Health care workers and police who are on the scene during violent situations need to be trained thoroughly. Proper documentation needs to be made, and improving detections needs to be done.
The community as a whole can do much to prevent femicides from happening. Walk away from abusive relationships. Say no to domestic violence. Need help? Always remember that you are not alone. Call one of these numbers if you are being abused or if you know someone who is being abused:
- POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse): 011 6424 345
- Gender-based Violence Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (emergency line) or *120*7867# (please call me facility)
- Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355#
Do you have a story to tell concerning the topic of femicide? Any input or advice to give? Comment below.