Article By : Vincent Mathosse
Indeed, in the midst of chaotic events; there is always an opportunity to find solutions. For instance, in response to the spate of spiralling cases of femicide – the killing of women, and sexual violence against women and girls from different social status in South Africa. Members of society have been debating the causes, consequences, and much needed policy interventions to combat the scourge of femicide and sexual violence against women and young girls. Contrasting views have been expressed in the debate on how to address femicide and sexual violence in South Africa. Radical solutions such as the re-institution of capital punishment or alternatively, the introduction of chemical castration (Chemical castration is castration via anaphrodisiac drugs, whether to reduce libido and sexual activity) have been proposed and discussed in ongoing debates across different spheres and through different platforms in the country.
However, in my opinion, I do not think the above solutions speak to the rub of the problem. In such chaos, we need calm heads to steer society towards thought-out solutions. Knee jerk reactions can only add salt into the wound. The problem with the first suggestion is that it claims that the type of sentence has a direct impact on the murder rate. In reality, empirical research and studies suggest that capital punishment or death sentence has no correlation with crime statistics.
With that being said, it would also be unconstitutional to introduce such a sentence as the right to life is protected by the constitution. The second suggestion, chemical castration is equally problematic in that it reduces the violation of women’s bodies squarely on the function of men’s genitals. Again, there is no relationship between the sexual urge of perpetrators and sexual violence crimes.
But does that mean perpetrators of violent crimes against women and children have a right to take other people’s lives or violate their victims and survivor’s bodies? Absolutely not, but we cannot respond like a tyranny. I believe that such events are a test to our infant democracy and institutions and our response will determine whether we sincerely believe in democratic principles or we choose to adhere to the constitution when it favours us. Impulsive decision-making must be avoided at all costs because its consequences can set a precedent that might not be desirable in the future.
Although, femicide and sexual violence cases have associated implications for our justice system – police, prosecution and correctional service. What we need is a multifaceted approach that will consider other factors such as social, economic, and environmental correlations. However, from a justice point of view approach, an effective justice system that is pro victims and survivors, the modification of centuries of patriarchy that discourages ownership and entitlement of bodies of women and men that do not violate and rape women. This solution will require an early teaching intervention for a boy child to respect girls and to teach equality and respect.