By Thabile Mbhele, SABC, 2017-08-31

Women take part in a drumming session in downtown Johannesburg, Friday to protest against violence against women and children. As the world marks International Women’s Day, South Africans are locked in public soul-searching over the high level of murders and rapes perpetrated against women. (DENIS FARRELL / AP)

Violence against women has reached crisis point in South Africa; yet it’s no longer shocking, this emerged during the launch of the Violence against Women Research Report in Johannesburg.

The research was conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation together with Oxfam South Africa.

South Africa 
has been dubbed the rape capital of the world.  And despite huge financial investments in curbing violence, the situation seems not to change.

Statistics show that one in five women under the age of 18 in South Africa has experienced some form of physical violence.

That at least three women are killed by their intimate partners daily. And let alone being dubbed the rape capital of the world ,South Africa’s femicide rates are five times the global average.

Anne Githuka-Shongwe from the United Nations Women says such grim data has desensitized many in South Africa.

“One of the things that strike me the most about the South Africa context is the normalisation conversation, of course we don’t feel that it’s normal but it’s talked about so much that we glaze over when we see the news.”

“The paradox is that when we look globally at how countries are responding to gender based violence. Ironically South Africa is at the top. So you have these horrendous results but on the other hand you also have much huger investments than you find in other countries.”

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) which conducted the research in four provinces, says it is disturbed by the increase in violence in the country.

Executive Director Nomfundo Mogapi says: “And we have been concerned in the past few years about what we say is the stubbornness of violence that refuses to come down as you all know the recent stats that we have now in relation to murder is that it has been on the increase by about 13 %.”

Calls have been made for men who are largely the perpetrators of violence to get involved in helping find solutions to the crisis.  However, Githuka-Shongwe cautions against this.

“How do we know that the men who are signing up and the men we are calling champions despite the due diligence that we do, are not themselves perpetrators ,so it puts us in a very difficult space.”

“We actually had a direct experience of it because we’ve been working with the department of higher education. Can I dare to risk actually working with you? Because what we’ve been seeing is that men are letting us down even when we’ve put our trust in working with men.”

Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women and Children, Susan Shabangu, has welcomed the report.

“This is not a crisis, it’s a challenge and we have to find ways of dealing with it. Violence against women used to be normalised. Not anymore. We are a step ahead; we are able to talk about it now, unlike before.”

Shabangu believes unity is key to finding a lasting solution to the scourge of violence in South Africa.

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