High profile cases highlight the ugly truth about violence against women in South Africa


The charge of murder against South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius has cast a spotlight on a national problem. The murder rate among South African women is five times the global average. And more than 150 woman are raped every day. In 2009, a survey of South African men revealed that one in four of those asked said they had raped a woman. We ask why violence against women is so common in South Africa.

Freelance journalist, Alex Duval Smith

South African women have plenty to protest these days. Two high profile cases have shone a light on the issue of violence against women. There is of course around the world on the case of Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter charged in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Now as you've been hearing he's given emotional preliminary testimony saying he shot her by accident after mistaking her for an intruder. More information is coming from the prosecution bail hearing that continues today.

Now that case comes just weeks after another case that shocked South Africans; the brutal rape, mutilation and murder of a 17-year-old. Her ex-boyfriend and another man are charged in her death.

Alex Duval Smith is a freelance journalist in Cape Town.

Blogger Nomfundo Peach

The funeral for Oscar Pistorius's girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp was held yesterday. And at the funeral, her uncle Mike Steenkamp noted the cruel irony that she had been speaking out for victims, the very kind of victim that she eventually became.

Reeva Steenkamp was one of many women in South Africa who was starting to speak out against violence against women. It's an issue that has affected Nomfundo Peach's entire family. Her aunt was murdered last year.

Nomfundo Peach is a blogger in South Africa. She was in Randfontein, about 45 kilometers west of Johannesburg.

Panel: Gushwell Brooks / Rachel Jewkes

The statistics surrounding violence against women in South Africa are even more troubling when you realize that so many of the women targeted are victims of their own intimate partners.

Rachel Jewkes is tracking the numbers.She's the Director of the Gender Health and Research unit of the South African Medical Research Council. She is also the lead author of two key studies about male behaviour and violence against women. Rachel Jewkes was in Pretoria, South Africa.

And Gushwell Brooks is a civil society researcher, a columnist and radio show host. He also practiced law for four years. He was in Johannesburg.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath and St. John's, NFLD producer Heather Barrett.

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