A Danish man, Peter Frederiskon, is before the courts after 21 pieces of female genitalia was found in the freezer at his Bloemfontein home.

Frederikson is facing charges after the gruesome discovery was made. His Lesotho-born wife, who reported his wrong-doing to authorities, has since been shot dead. She is reported to have been the star witness in the case against Frederikson.

This case, at first glance, draws our attention to the horrific reality of female genital mutilation (FGM). It is estimated that FGM affects between 125 and 140 million women and girls around the world.

Female circumcision or FGM refers to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and or the labia minora and major. In some cases it may involve cauterisation, or burning, of the genitals. The aim is to reduce the sexual pleasure experienced by women, to prevent fornication and infidelity. In South Africa, this violation of human rights is illegal. However, many other countries around the world are lagging behind in outlawing this inhumane practice.

FGM is typically associated with traditional and cultural practice, however the case of the Danish perpetrator suggests something more.

The fact that Frederikson came to South Africa to evade arrest in his home country of Denmark hints strongly at the perception of our criminal justice system. Furthermore, it tells of the extent to which violence against women is palatable in South Africa.

This must stop.

The big picture here is that these are hate-crimes against women. These crimes, see no nationality, race, age or economic status; they see only gender.

On the 9th of February 2016, the UN reiterated its call for the end of FGM, a noteworthy position, which must be endorsed. However FGM is a symptom of gender discrimination and the issue of gender-based violence extends beyond FGM.

Regardless of whether we are talking about the castration or the murder of women in what we call ‘crimes of passion,’ it amounts to the same thing: that women do not own their own bodies. The common theme here is the perception that the fundamental purpose of a woman is to serve the desires of a man. When she no longer can or is willing to do so, she is disposable.

Reports about the Frederiskon case have indicated the man believed there to be nothing wrong with his practice. Frederikson’s brazen viewpoint fits well within the parameters of ‘she asked for it,’ an all too common excuse for gross acts of violence against women and girls. 

*This article has been updated

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