How to deal with sexual violence in South Africa

A month after the BBC wondered if South Africans will ever be shocked by rape, the sadistic rape and murder of the 17 year old coloured working class woman, Anene Booysen, from Bredasdorp, a small town in the Western Cape, provoked nationwide outrage. As last week’s news reports (see herehere and here, for example) and social media traction indicate, South Africans are aware of the urgency with which sexual violence in their country needs to be addressed. Yet the ideas on how to do that, differ widely. Some argue for a reconsideration of the in 1995 abolished death penalty. Others side with President Jacob Zuma, who calls for “the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society.” The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, herself a South African, commented that “there is a need for very strong signals to be sent to all rapists that sexual violence is absolutely unacceptable and that they will have to face the consequences of their terrible acts. The entrenched culture of sexual violence which prevails in South Africa must end.” Continue reading