News / South Africa / Crime
Only 11 days into 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (GBV) under the theme “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”, GBV activists say SA still has a long way to go before ending what’s dubbed the “second pandemic”, as people still do not understand consent.
According to GBV survivor Kgomotso Sebetsa, sexual trauma did not always involve physical force, because there did not have to be be a weapon involved or for the victim to be fighting back, screaming, saying “no” repeatedly, for it to constitute rape or sexual assault.
“Sexual coercion, for example, when someone pressures or manipulates you into having sexual contact when you don’t want to, because people do not understand what consent is.
“Things like saying ‘I’m tired’, crying, or pulling away are a few examples of ways to communicate no. A person doesn’t have to yell no, scream, kick, or bite for it to be very clear that they don’t want to engage in sexual activity.”
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Sebetsa said consent was the foundation of sex and the missing element in sexual violence, because consent was a simple concept to grasp, as most sexual assaults did not happen at the hands of strangers in dark alleys.
“Often, it’s someone the victim knows or even a romantic partner. The Tears Foundation said it best – ‘consent is important, as sex without consent is rape’. Coerced sex – where you consent under duress, is also rape,” she added.
“Globally, one in three women have been abused in their lifetime, and in times of crises the numbers have risen even more, as seen during the Covid pandemic. You can see it within our borders with the recent crimes statistics in SA.”
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Police Minister Bheki Cele recently released the latest crime statistics for between July and September this year.
Over 9,500 GBV cases were reported, and 13,000 cases of domestic violence.
During the quarter, 897 women were murdered, 64 more than in the quarter from the previous year – an increase of 7.7%.
Sexual offence cases increased by 4.7%, with 9,556 rapes between July and September, up 7.1% from the previous year’s second quarter – 8,922.
Health Economics and Aids Research Division at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Dr Roselyn Kanyemba said in many cases it was a matter of masculinity and power structures.
However, stopping the violence meant starting with believing survivors.
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“In cases like Jub Jub and Amanda du Pont, you find that because of their prominence they find it difficult to come forward and speak out because of society and how they are treated.
“Women have been socialised to think being raped is your fault, if you’re raped you’ve done something wrong or encouraged it.”
Kanyemba also said one of the excuses men have used for a long time was saying that when a woman says no, she actually means yes.
But because of movements, such as the #MeToo movement, people have become more courageous in speaking out.
“It’s so bad and sad that there are people who take rape so lightly,” Kanyemba said.