Nearly 4 000 women and children were murdered between April last year and March this year. This is according to the police’s publicly released crime statistics this week.
Across the country 3 915 women and children were murdered. They formed part of the total number of murder victims – 20 336.
The country’s most populated province, KwaZulu-Natal, racked up the highest number of women and children murders with 886 victims, followed by 730 in Eastern Cape, 649 in Western Cape, 657 in Gauteng, 254 in Free State, 231 in North West, 217 in Mpumalanga, 215 in Limpopo and 76 in Northern Cape.
Murder was the fifth most common crime committed against women. The most frequent was common assault (81 142), followed by serious assault (53 263), sexual offences (36 731) and attempted murder (3 554). Crimes against children were sexual offences (23 488), followed by common assault (10 446), serious assault (7 562), attempted murder (1 059) and murder (985). More boys (691) were killed than girls (297).
Dr Shaheda Omar, director of the Teddy Bear Clinic, said violence against children was “definitely on the increase” and her clinic was seeing “100 new children each month”.
“What is interesting is that there is a co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence,” she said.
Omar said only one in four cases of abuse are reported. And, of those, only one in nine cases are successfully prosecuted.
The conviction rates have increased but not at the rate they should be.
Dr Shaheda Omar, director of the Teddy Bear Clinic
Gender activist Lisa Vetten (pictured) said the statistics were “missing the picture of domestic violence”.
A starting point, she said, would be to develop solid data systems and conduct research on the causes and factors that informed violence, including population size, the role of gender, how work affects violence and the history of violent perpetrators.
“There are dynamics we do not understand. The violence and its increase is an indication that something is going on in broader society. There is a relationship between masculinity and violence and the violence among men,” she said.
“We shouldn’t look exclusively at violence against women and children without looking into men and their experiences of violence because the two are related. Research tells us men who experience violence are likely to become perpetrators.”
Asked what was needed to prevent the violence, Vetten said there was no evidence that preventive measures worked.
“We need to invest more in services that rehabilitate victims and prevent repeat victimisation,” she said.
“We also need to help boys who are subjected to violence and prevent them from becoming adult perpetrators.”