Since lockdown commenced all around the world after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, gender-based violence has increased at a shocking rate. Femicide is a term that has appeared in news articles globally and spreading like wildfire. President Cyril Ramaphosa also described the brutal killings of several South African women during lockdown as a dark and shameful period for our nation.
In a time where the whole world is in turmoil, violent men are taking advantage of eased restrictions on movement to attacked women. Violence against women is no new subject of discussion and concern in Turkey. According to the We Will Stop Femicide online platform, this year alone, 27 women were murdered in this country due to jealousy from a spouse or an ex-partner; a further 23 suspected femicides were recorded as well. In South Africa Over 52 000 sexual offenses and nearly 42 000 rapes were reported to the police last year, according to a nationwide roadmap to combat gender-based violence released earlier in 2020 – and the amounts of rapes and killings continued to spike during our country’s nationwide lockdown since March.
1-in-5 women are victims of domestic violence. This is significantly greater than global or continental averages and is amongst the worst in the world. The actual number is believed to be far greater because so many South African women suffer their abuse in silence. Half a million cases of domestic violence are reported annually, according to the SAPS Crime Report 2018. POWA statistics show that women in South Africa stay in domestically violent relationships for an average of 10-15 years. 4-in-10 divorced or separated South African women reported domestic violence in their relationship. In South Africa, a woman is killed every 8 hours by her intimate partner. Femicide has become the leading cause of all female homicides at 56%. (South African Medical Research Council, Evert 8 Hours Research Brief and the Policy Brief on Gender-Based Violence.)
How do we end the silence?
Listen and BELIEVE
If someone is telling you they’re experiencing domestic violence, let them know you believe them and are there to listen non-judgmentally. Don’t rush to solve their problems or tell them what to do – believe that they are the expert on their own life and be whatever support they need.
Promote healthy relationships
Make sure you converse with friends, family members, and co-workers about healthy relationships. Topics that fall under this can include consent, boundaries, and healthy communication. Instill respect and be the example you want to see in the community.
Create a community
Domestic violence thrives under isolation and in situations where violent behaviour goes unchecked, especially during lockdown. Ensure that you talk to your neighbours and create a safe space where you can be a support system for those in need. Be an active and engaged community member!
Does your workplace have a plan for employees who are experiencing domestic violence? Does your child’s school have resources on teen dating violence? Does your university have good policies for handling sexual assault and domestic violence among students? If so, support them. If not, talk to someone about implementing policies for preventing and addressing violence.
Charity begins at home, let’s speak out and once and for all stop violence against women and children. The smallest action can be the start of a massive change!