Saturday October 1st 2022

Is South Africa raising a killer nation?

Journalist Erica Southey investigates some shocking statistics about female abuse in South Africa – and asks what we’re actually doing about it?

In their blog “Anti-Chivalry: 25% of South African Men are Rapists”, (a blog site mainly for guys) states that according to mathematics and reliable statistics – six million South African males are rapists.  This information is based on interviews done with 1700 South African males by South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC).

Should we really be surprised and gasp in horror at this figure when our media is full of gender-based violence reports? The latest report tells of a newly wed British woman killed during a hi-jacking in Gugulethu (a township in the Western Cape). Her husband was left unharmed.

In the previous few weeks; mothers who dump their newborn babies in refuse bins and on municipal dumping sites made headlines.  This also reached government at a recently held cabinet meeting.  Reasons cited for this shocking action are poverty and gender-based violence.  Other topics range from boyfriends killing their girlfriends to a schoolboy raping his fellow female students.

Many South African women and children are forced to go home to face an abusive husband and father daily, while some of us are fortunate to return to a loving home.  For most boys an angry father or male caretaker is the only role model he sees in terms of how to treat a woman.

One can continue to highlight the problem and forget to highlight the ‘why it happens’ and how to combat this out-of-control horror – or explore the issue more deeply.  In a recent article I covered on gender-based violence in South Africa, sexist music lyrics, dysfunctional parents and angry gender-based messages came up as major contributors for the male‑on-female violence. A point of concern is that the perpetrators are getting younger and younger.  Bloubergstrand-based (a coastal town in the Western Cape) clinical psychologist James Weideman said that the “younger the boy – the easier to rehabilitate him through psychotherapy.”

Women are in dire straits, and say that the South African justice system fails them. In a separate interview for a different story I covered, Ruby Steyn, whose six-year old daughter was raped by her own father, told me that her case was thrown out “due to the child’s inability to testify at this stage.” (an excerpt from a police letter to Steyn).  Other interviews related to this story showed up horrific details of rape, abuse and even attempted murder.  Two women went in hiding to avoid being killed by their spouses.

Recently appointed Social Development Minister Patricia De Lille stated in a radio interview that the few cases we hear of are only the reported ones – what about the many that are not?  Women are scared to report abuse because they live in fear of their violent partner or don’t see a way out of their hell.

South African-based oganisation People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA) sports a couple of shocking statistics on their site (based on figures obtained in the late 1990s). Today, things are no different. South Africa ranks the highest in gender-based sexual violence worldwide – a whopping 40% (Source: World Health Organisation website) :

  • 1 in every 4 South African women or 25% of women in South Africa are assaulted by their boyfriend or husband every week.
  • 43% of 159 women surveyed had experienced battering and marital rape.
  • 1 in 5 women is battered by her partner.
  • A study of 600 pregnant and non-pregnant teenage girls in Cape Town revealed that 60% respondents said they had been beaten by their partner.
  • The average woman stays in an abusive relationship for 10.5 years before leaving.
  • In South Africa 1 in every 5 women is abused by her husband or partner.
  • A woman suffers being battered an average of 39 times before she eventually seeks outside help.
  • Prevalence of domestic violence against women was found to be 38.3% of which 65.2%, or 1 in 4, was perpetrated by the husband.
  • 1 in 3 women in South Africa will be raped.
  • 1 in 2 South African women will be raped in her lifetime.
  • 30% of females were forced to have sex the first time they had intercourse.
  • According to one police estimate, only 1 in 35 rapes is reported.
  • 1 out of every 25 women who are raped report it to the police.
  • In 1993 27,056 rapes reported only 8,998 were prosecuted and only 4, 753 resulted in convictions or 17. 5%.
  • The average age of girls who are sexually abused is 11 year of age.
  • Of the women who sought help from the police, only 4% said they would ask them for help again.
  • 57% of women who reported sexual violence never laid a charge because the police refused to let them.
  • 36% of assault charges laid by women get “lost” and there is no further action.
  • 59% of Murder cases at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court involved men accused of killing their wives.
  • 41% of all female homicide is perpetrated by the women’s partner.
  • 2/3 of African Women who are employed earn less then R500 (50 pounds) per month.
  • In rural areas, 4 out of 5 South African women have no employment at all.

In som cultures here, a girl grows up indoctrinated to believe that she is not valued as much as a male child. At birth, in some cases, a girl child is frowned upon. I wonder how many women went for an abortion on finding out that the precious life they carried was a girl?  Could some South African women silently choose the female infanticide route? The Youth Advocate Program International has a thought provoking slide-show on Discrimination Against the Girl Child where female infanticide is explained.

Further re-enforcement of low female worth comes from key public figures and icons whose lifestyles reflect that women are possessions rather than valid human beings.

Is South Africa raising a killer nation and opening the door for female killers who are no longer willing to take the abuse?

Sources :

POWA statistics:

PowerPoint Slideshow on Discrimination Against the Girl Child by Youth Advocate Program International:

World Health Organisation stat highlighted:

2 Comments for “Is South Africa raising a killer nation?”

  • Boitumelo Molefe says:

    Women abuse has to be eradicated completly,yesterday is too soon.Men who abuse should look somewhere else for solutions to their problems and not take it out on women.We can’t afford to have people leaving in fear,a safe contry breeds a succesful nation. Blame it on apartheid and give a perfect excusse for our shortcomings. The SAPS should employ patriots of which we seem to be lacking in that department,the question is why?. No matter the raeson,it won’t justify these acts. If there is a hell,I hope all rapists end up there.

    • Erica says:

      Hi Boitumelo,

      If only it could be eradicated world-wide.

      You ask a good question as to why SAPS doesn’t have a ‘champion’ in this department. In other related interviews on similar topics – SAPS was blamed, but in other cases also praised.

      Thanks for your comment to this article.

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