Guest : Lindsay Henson
Lawyers against Abuse condemns rampant acts of gender-based violence and demands
government to strengthen the justice system response to these crimes.
In response to recent reports of widespread rape, murder and abuse of women and
children across South Africa, non-profit organisation Lawyers against Abuse (LvA)
strongly condemns these rampant acts of gender-based violence (GBV) and demands
that the South African government take immediate action to strengthen the justice
system response to these crimes.
While recent events have once again “shocked” the country, there is nothing new about
South Africa’s high prevalence rates of GBV. According to the World Health
Organisation, South Africa’s female interpersonal violence death rate was 4.8x the
global average in 2016. According to most recent SAPS data from 2017/18, a woman is
murdered every three hours in South Africa, not accounting for motive. While accurate
statistics on the prevalence of sexual violence are difficult to ascertain due to a high
degree of under-reporting, the problem is substantial.
LvA believes that one of the main reasons for the continued violence is the failure of
the justice system in GBV cases. These failures create an environment where
perpetrators of violence are not held accountable for their actions. Despite strong laws,
victims rarely see justice due to inadequate resources and severe deficiencies in
implementation by local state actors. For example, research shows that a perpetrator is
arrested in only 58% of reported rape cases, only 18.5% of these cases ever go to trial
and only 8.6% of these cases end in a conviction. GBV victims are often further
victimised when seeking justice by discriminatory police attitudes, victim blaming and
the traumatic and adversarial courtroom environment.
Without comprehensive support services, GBV victims are expected to navigate this
complex and often hostile legal process alone. Furthermore, the complexities of the
trauma associated with violence and the negative impact on the psychological
wellbeing of victims create further obstacles for victims in accessing justice. In most
cases, victims have no one to turn to for help when the system fails them.
Lawyer against Abuse
Guest : Lindsay Henson