What does the ongoing violence against women and girls say about South Africa and the men who commit these crimes?

So barefaced are these attackers that they ask ‘have you ever been raped before?’ as they undress their victims.

The state has an obligation to protect women, half of this country’s citizenry, against attack, but this is not happening. Instead it seems more and more that these crimes against women are left to fester.

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Recently, a 38-year-old woman on her way to buy pads was assaulted in a minibus taxi; after her would-be rapists decided not to rape her because she was on her period.

According to a 23 June report in The New Age she was beaten for about 30 minutes and then cast out of the moving taxi van. The discrimination against menstruation saved her from a more brutal attack than the one she suffered. 

This comes shortly after the Daily Sun reported that a 16-year-old girl was abducted by a taxi driver and raped repeatedly throughout the night. The next day she was dropped off at the same spot where she had been kidnapped.

According to the report, the teenager told her father that her attacker stabbed her in the neck with a screwdriver when she tried to fight back. At the time of the report, the South African Police Service (SAPS) was still in search of the suspect. 

As for the woman who was thrown from the moving taxi, the SAPS officers who came to take her statement as she lay in hospital, were from the Brixton police station. They then told her that she had to go open a case at the Roodepoort police station in Jo’burg where the incident took place. The SAPS officers could have easily opened the case and then transferred it to the Roodepoort police station themselves. But no.

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The reality is that women and children are being brutalised as we go about our daily lives. We have very little protection from the SAPS who are not coping with crime in general, but least of all, with the rape and murder of women and children.

With the rate of femicide, the murder of women, at five times higher in South Africa than in any other country, it is obvious that we are being confronted with a chronic social problem. 

The state has an obligation to protect women against attack, but this is not happening. Instead it seems more and more that these crimes against women are left unaddressed.

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