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Ramaphosa right on murder of SA women but better data needed

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Calling it an “affront to our shared humanity”, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed alarm about gender-based violence in South Africa.

Ramaphosa was speaking at a recent national summit on gender-based violence and femicide in Gauteng province.

“The unrelenting murder of women - for no reason other than that they are women - is steadily corroding the soul of our nation,” he added.

Femicide has “increased by 11% over the last two years”, Ramaphosa said, citing the police. Does available data bear him out?

What is femicide?

Definitions of “femicide” vary. The term is defined most narrowly as “the killing of females by males because they are females”, South Africa’s national statistics agency, Statistics South Africa, noted in a report on crime against women. This is the definition Ramaphosa used in his speech.

“Collecting correct data on femicide is challenging,” according to the World Health Organization, which regularly releases global femicide statistics. Most countries do not have information on the relationship between the victim and perpetrator or the motive of the murderer.

Because of this, the broad definition of femicide - “any killings of women or girls” - is often used.

2,930 women murdered in 2017/18

South Africa’s latest crime statistics show that a total of 2,930 women (aged 18 and older) were murdered in 2017/18. This was an increase of 11% from the year before. It appears Ramaphosa was referring to this statistic in his speech.

But the available statistics do not reveal how many women were murdered “for no reason other than that they are women”, as Ramaphosa put it.  - Kate Wilkinson (05/11/2018)

Rate and number of women (18+) murdered in South Africa
YearWoman 18+ murderedFemicide rate/100,000

Source: South African Police Service and Statistics South Africa

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