Lets face it. It is an extreme sport being a woman in South Africa. It is a blessing to live a day without being unharmed. According to The Crime Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA shows that femicide is 5 times higher than the global average.

What is femicide?

Femicide is generally understood to involve intentional murder of women because they are women, but broader definitions include any killings of women or girls. Femicide is usually perpetrated by men, but sometimes female family members may be involved. Femicide differs from male homicide in specific ways. For example, most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.

Gender based violence in South Africa |

Types of femicide

Intimate femicide

Femicide committed by a current or former husband or boyfriend is known as intimate femicide or intimate partner homicide.

Murders in the name of ‘honour’

‘Honour’-related murders involve a girl or woman being killed by a male or female family member for an actual or assumed sexual or behavioural transgression, including adultery, sexual intercourse or pregnancy outside marriage – or even for being raped.

Dowry-related femicide

Another form of murder of women linked to cultural practices is related to dowry. It occurs primarily in areas of the Indian subcontinent, and involves newly married women being killed by in-laws over conflicts related to dowry, such as bringing insufficient dowry to the family.

Non-intimate femicide

Femicide committed by someone without an intimate relationship with the victim is known as non-intimate femicide, and femicide involving sexual aggression is sometimes referred to as sexual femicide.

Gender-based violence in South Africa

The number of reported rapes rose 3.9% to 41 583 in the year through March, the highest in four years. The police have logged 443 387 rapes over the past decade, yet the problem may be understated because such crimes frequently aren’t reported. A total 2 771 women were murdered in the 12-month period.

The South African Police Service regularly releases a breakdown of murder victims by age group and sex. Their latest data show that 20 336 people were murdered in 2017/18. The majority of the murder victims were adult men, accounting for 16 421 deaths. This is equal to one murder every 30 minutes.

In 2017/8, 2930 adult women murdered. It has been widely shared online that a woman is murdered every four hours in South Africa. That statistic was correct between April and December 2016. According to the most recent data from 2017/18, a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa. The police do not provide a breakdown of the motive behind the murder of women. So, it is not possible to say how many were killed because they were female.

In 2016, the age-standardised interpersonal violence death rate for the female population in South Africa was 12.5 per 100 000. This was 4.8 times the global average rate of 2.6. South Africa had the fourth highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed by the WHO in 2016.

The role of patriarchy and culture in gender-based violence

We cannot discuss gender-based violence without exploring the role of patriarchy. Misogyny is embedded in patriarchy and is a basic part of the violence against women and nature in South African society. African culture plays a role in how men view women. Most African cultures are patriarchal in nature where women are seen as lesser than and subordinate to men. Further men do not see women as having agency or equal in community. They see women as inferior and believe they can impose their will against her body and agency. Rape is an example of violence against women that is prevalent in all patriarchal cultures. Rape can be viewed as an expression of subconscious hatred toward women and a conscious process of intimidation by which men keep women in a state of fear.

Another way patriarchy is reflected in the statements and opinions surrounding gender based violence. Most times messages subtly blame victims and place the onus on women to prevent abuse. Honestly the message should be aimed at men to inform them about consent and the criminal consequences of gender based violence.

Parenting arrangements, socialisation forces, and patriarchal structures must be scrutinised to understand how rape culture and gender-based violence developed in South Africa.


Gender based violence is at national crisis level. Women aren’t safe anywhere. These are four stories that unfolded in August 2019.

Women are not safe running errands.

University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana (19) went to collect a package at her local Post Office. She was never seen alive again. A 42 year old Post Office worker told her to return later to pick up her package. Upon returning to the Post Office he raped and killed Uyinene then dumped her body in Khayelistha neighbourhood.

Gender based violence in South Africa | Uyinene Mrwetyana

Women are not safe at home.

Jesse Hess, 19, a first-year theology student, and her 85-year-old grandfather were found dead in their Parow flat on August 30. The body of the elderly man was reportedly found tied up in the toilet and Jesse’s body was found on a bed. The killer is still at large.

Gender based violence in South Africa | Jesse Hesse

14 year old Janika Mallo’s half-naked body of was found in her grandmother’s backyard on Sunday morning. Her head bashed in and “her brain leaking” from the left side of her face. The girl’s dungarees had been pulled down, and it is understood she had been raped before being bashed with a concrete block over the head.

Gender based violence in South Africa | Janika Mallo

Women are not safe in relationships.

World karate, continental and SA boxing female champion Leighandre Jegels was shot and killed by her police officer boyfriend, whom she had a protection order against.

Gender based violence in South Africa | Leighandre Jegels

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