Friday, November 19, 2010

violent south africa

The murder of a British honeymooner in a Gugulethu township near Cape Town made the headlines but what about those who live there ?

While the murder of tourists is rare, and generates international headlines, the murder of residents is not. More than 700 people have been killed in Gugulethu in the last five years, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations. On average that is one homicide every two-and-a-half days in a population of roughly 300,000.
A country of 49 milion people, South Africa every year reports around 18,000 murders and 50,000 rapes. In England and Wales, with 53 million people, there are around 600 murders and 12,000 rapes a year.
The police reported 68,332 sexual offences last year – an average of one every eight minutes – and one in four men surveyed by the Medical Research Council admitted committing rape. Many of these crimes go unreported, with many victims remaining invisible, ignored not only by the media but by communities, police and courts. A 2002 survey found that only one in nine South African rape survivors report the attack to the police.

Dumisani Rebombo, a gender activist and senior manager at the community organisation the Olive Leaf Foundation. says "We live in a society that has known so much violence for so much time that it becomes normalised."

Bafana Khumalo, international programmes manager of the Sonke Gender Justice Network, rejects the notion that patriarchal African subcultures make sexual violence inevitable. "I find that sometimes people seek an easy escape into tribal 'tradition'. When you interrogate it further you find a certain practice was never done anywhere but it's being used to justify something now." and explains further,"Apartheid was predicated on violence – the army, the security establishment, the state apparatus used it to dominate for decades. That became a culture in our society. Violence was seen as a normal part of life."

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