Can you picture a life constantly thinking about what to wear out in public? Not because you’re obsessed with looking trendy but because your outfit might invite unsolicited catcalling or being followed by strangers? Or a life where you cannot take a jog outside during the day with your phone listening to music – god forbid you’re wearing tights and a crop top. Or how about going to a seemingly safe place like a post office? You can’t possibly get killed in a post office, right? Our president called the Gender Based Violence crisis in South Africa a second pandemic. He’s not wrong. If only our crisis was as simple as taking a vaccine and being free of this constant paralyzing fear. Let me paint you a picture of the last few years in SA.
118 women. That’s the number of names read out on International Women’s Day. The number of women killed last year and the reality of women’s safety and gender based violence in the UK. There are many things that made Sarah’s case above so many of those named stand out. Her race? Her class? Her education? An amalgamation of all these factors most likely but for now I want to address that number.Why? Because the cases of Sarah and Nicole and Bibaa are outliers. They were killed by strangers, and though like many women, I have been harrassed on the streets and women’s safety in public spaces is a genuine concern, that isn’t where the biggest danger lies.