The Significance and Importance of Women’s Day in South Africa
Driving to work one morning, I heard two news stories that were both shocking but at the same time commonplace in current South African discourse. Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, has admitted, courtesy of a sound clip which went viral, to assaulting two women at a Johannesburg night club. It appears fragile masculinity is being compensated for with violence. The second story in the same news segment was the arrest of four men who allegedly assaulted a man and his wife outside of a KFC in Pretoria some weeks ago. Statistics reveal that on average, one in five South African women older than 18 has experienced physical violence and on average, a woman dies at the hands of an intimate partner every eight hours in South Africa. Fortunately, both incidents were reported and are now being investigated.
In May this year, a pregnant woman was gang-raped in Johannesburg’s inner-city where eleven men are said to have been involved. In the same month, an eight year old girl was raped at her Randburg primary school by three boys, aged twelve to fourteen. Little three-year-old Courtney Pieters was raped twice before she was killed and buried in a shallow grave. Karabo Mokoena was murdered by her boyfriend, had acid burned over her and was burned beyond recognition, her body being found in an open veld. A fifteen-year-old girl reported missing was found murdered and burnt in Klerksdorp in the North West on Mother’s Day. These are almost daily headlines in South Africa and the level of violence against women and children appears to be escalating. A 2016 report indicates that there is no single reason or cause for gender-based violence, but that inequality and the acceptance of violence are two extremely important factors as well as social constructions of manhood.