Led by a woman covered in white from head-to-toe, hundreds of protesters have marched through Pretoria in recent days in protest of what has been described by South African President Jacob Zuma as a “crisis” of violence towards women and children. The protesters, most of whom were men, were organized by #NotInMyName, a men’s group that has pledged to take “responsibility” for the sexual violence perpetrated by men across the country.
“The time to take collective responsibility for our shameful action is now,” said Kholofelo Masha, one of the march organizers. “You hear a lady screaming next door, you decide to sleep when you know there is a problem. No man should beat a woman or rape a woman while you’re watching.”
More than 27 percent of South African men have admitted to raping a girl or a woman, and there were 64,000 cases of sexual violence reported last year in South Africa, according to police figures. The recent death of Karabo Mokoena, a 22-year-old student who was allegedly brutally murdered by her boyfriend, had also ignited outrage across the country. Mokoena was allegedly “necklaced”– a brutal form of execution and torture in which a rubber tire filled with gasoline is forced around the victim’s upper-torso and set ablaze — before having acid poured over her body.
On Thursday, President Zuma visited the family of a 3-year-old girl who was raped and killed after disappearing from her home in Cape Town on May 4. Zuma has condemned the violence against women and children, calling it a “crisis” for the country.
Zuma himself, however, is arguably an example of the country’s problem with sexual assault.
In 2006, shortly before his election as president the following year, Zuma was acquitted of having raped Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, an HIV-positive AIDS activist who was the daughter of an ANC member who spent 10 years on Robben Island with Zuma. During the trial, Zuma, a former head of the country’s national AIDS council, claimed that he had been unable to resist her due to the clothing she had been wearing, before adding that he had showered after penetrating her to prevent himself from contracting HIV. In the wake of the trial, Kuzwayo had her house burned down and was forced to flee to Holland. She died at 41 years old on October 8, 2016.
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Male protesters in South Africa are fed up with violence of against women and children pic.twitter.com/FSKvE5rGqg
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 23, 2017
Read the full story at BBC News.