Violence against women is so pervasive in South African society that it is “an almost acceptable phenomenon”, according to a preliminary report by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women. The Special Rapporteur, Dubravka Šimonovic, also found that the South African social fabric is still affected by violence that occurred during the apartheid era, including “deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes towards the role of women in society.”
While praising the country’s progressive laws and policies on gender-based violence, the Special Rapporteur said that most of these laws are poorly implemented. She cited South Africa’s high rate of femicide, domestic violence and gang rape. She said many South African law enforcement agencies create a “secondary trauma” for victims of violence because personnel lack sufficient training on how to handle acts of violence against women. The Special Rapporteur recommended that South Africa focus on preventing violence against women, including the prompt issuance of emergency protective orders and effective education and training on gender equality. She also recommended the establishment of a “femicide watch” to track statistics on gender-related killings in South Africa.
The Special Rapporteur issued her preliminary report after a recent eight-day visit to South Africa. She expects to submit her full report to the UN Human Rights Council in 2016.
Compiled from: Mudzwiti, Moses, Damning report on violence against women, IOL News (December 11, 2015); Magnus, Leila, “Violence against women raises concern”, SABC News (December 11, 2015).