Gender violence

The United Nations in South Africa on Wednesday strongly condemned growing gender-based violence that has claimed the lives of several women in the country in recent days.

These murders are unfortunately part of an unabating trend of intimate partner violence meted out against thousands of women in South Africa and across the world, the organization said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

This refers to the violent murders of 19-year-old student Uyinene Mrwetyana, boxing champion Leighandre Jegels and 14-year-old Janika Mallo, to name only a few.

Mrwetyana was murdered by her boy friend, a police employee, Jegels was murdered by a stranger and Mallo was found dead in her grandmother’s back yard in Cape Town after being raped and murdered.

All the murders happened in August as South Africans celebrated the Women’s Month dedicated to the protection of women.

There were many other women and girls who have become victims of gender-based violence in South Africa, the UN statement said.

There is indeed a need to immediately reprioritize resources that will effectively deal with perpetrators of violence and offer prevention mechanisms, said the statement.

“This violence against women, particularly the murder of women by their intimate partners is a national and global crisis and our responses need to change and measure up to the destruction that brought by each life lost,” said Acting UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola.

Odusola called for accountability, saying men who are largely responsible for this violence must be held to account.

The UN is using the HeForShe Solidarity Movement as an avenue to actively involve men and boys as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights by encouraging them to act against inequalities faced by women and girls, accordidng to Odusola.

HeForShe calls on men across society – from CEOs to students – to take responsibility by speaking out when they see any form of discrimination, whether interpersonal or institutional and critically challenging other men and boys if they see them acting or speaking in a way that is discriminatory, violent or harassing to women and girls.

To achieve a world where all, especially women and girls are safe and protected, men cannot be left out of the picture, Odusola said.

“Negative cultural and social norms, particularly patriarchal privilege is at the heart of gender-based violence, therefore men have an integral role in breaking down these destructive norms and practices,” added Odusola.

Gender-based violence not only costs the lives of women and girls but also robs South Africa of women who could contribute to South Africa’s development, Odusola said.

According to UN statistics, gender-based violence costs the South African economy between about 28.4 billion rand (about 1.88 billon U.S. dollars) and 42.4 billion rand annually.

Workplaces which are sites of economic activity but also sites of violence must therefore play an integral part in establishing and sustaining mandatory programs against all forms of violence and sexual harassment, Odusola said.

The UN calls on South African men and boys to urgently commit to ending violence against women and girls, said Odusola.

South Africa has been gripped by persistent gender-based violence for long. Official statistics show that last year alone, almost 40,000 people were raped in South Africa with the overwhelming majority being women. That’s 109 people raped per day, and those are only the victims who decide to report the crime. Enditem

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