While the rest of the world is dealing with Corona virus pandemic, South Africa is dealing with two pandemics. This year alone, Covid-19 and another dreadful virus known to be the Gender Based Violence (GBV) have taken the lives of nearly 9000 women.
Gender-based violence has long been an issue, but it has received more attention this year than ever before. The lessening of lockdown restrictions has been related to a recent increase in femicide rates.
In March 2020, the government proclaimed a state of emergency due of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following it, the government imposed stringent lockdown regulations. People were only allowed to leave their homes if they needed to buy essential goods.
Many businesses were forced to close as a result of the government’s severe laws, causing many to lose their only source of income. When it came to preventing the spread of the virus, these methods were effective but on the other hand, the lockdown had a negative impact on the GBV.
In the first three weeks of the year, the government’s GBV and femicide command center received nearly 12 000 victims. In effect, the lockdown made it easier for the perpetrators, since they were locked in with the victim and had nowhere to flee to. During the pandemic, the numbers continued to rise on a daily basis, and the government appeared to be doing nothing to stop it.
During level 3, the president addressed the nation, declaring the “surge in the number of murders of women and children.” During his speech, he mentioned Tshegofasto Pule and Naledi Phangindawo.
Pule was found stabbed and hanging from a tree in a veld in Roodepoort. She was 8 months pregnant. Phangindawo was attacked with a knife and an axe in Mossel Bay. Ramaphosa also said that South Africa has among the highest levels of partner violence in the world.
According to statistics, one out of every nine rape cases is reported, and 14 % of the perpetrators are convicted. Women in South Africa feel when it comes to GBV and the treatment of women, South Africa has always had a problem, they say the government has failed to act in a way that shapes and transforms women’s lives. Women believe as long as no decisive steps are taken to halt the GBV pandemic, they will be dealing with this problem forever.