March 8th is International Women’s Day – a day to look back, to look forward, to plan, to reflect. to think about an old and prevalent issue that continually develops into worse forms. Violence Against Women often takes place in the intimacy of the home, yet it is a major public health, political and human rights problem through the world. According to the World Health Organization,
“one of the most common forms of VAW is that performed by a husband or male partner.” This type of violence is frequently invisible since it happens behind closed doors. Moreover, legal systems and cultural norms often do not treat it as a crime, but rather as a “private” family matter or a normal part of life.
there are forms of VAW that take place outside the home. stranger-rape is a criminal concern in many parts of the world but not all. in several regions of the world there aren’t even criminal statutes that deal with rape – or it is the rape victim who is treated as a criminal who sometimes pays with her life.
the use of rape during wartime as a tool of terror and torture has been well documented: during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, in the Republic of Congo, currently in the Darfur region of Sudan, and more. an emerging form of rape is being reported in South Africa, where lesbian women are at risk of being “corrective raped” by groups of men whose stated intention is to “cure” lesbian women, to turn them into “real women” via gang rape. this came to public attention last year when Eudy Simelane, a famous female footballer was gang raped and stabbed to death – hers has been the only case, of over thirty reported, where there been arrests and convictions.
South Africa’s national prosecuting authority said: “While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project.”