Pretoria – Most South African women are killed by their husbands, boyfriends or same sex partners, a Medical Research Council (MRC) study has found.
“In South Africa every one to two women killed are killed by her partner,” said MRC gender and health researcher Naeemah Abrahams on Tuesday.
The study, giving comparative figures of 1999 and 2009, indicated an overall decrease in female homicides as well as for intimate female homicides, referred to as femicides.
“Intimate femicide has become the leading cause of female homicide in South Africa,” the report said.
The study also showed that rape homicides, where evidence of being raped was present, had proportionately increased.
Abrahams said the decrease in overall figures came as no surprise because police data indicated homicides had decreased in South Africa in last 10 years.
“We expected to see the same trend in female homicides, which make us confident in our data.”
However, a comparison of all the figures indicated that intimacy homicides declined less.
Abrahams said rape homicides in South Africa had increased in the event of a non-partner.
“This tells us that we do not do a great job against feminine violence.”
‘Gun laws saving lives’
She said a general decrease in homicides should have resulted in a decrease in rape homicides as well.
No major changes in convictions in cases of woman being killed had been recorded. The level of convictions was still the same from 1999 to 2009.
Abrahams said the good news in the data related to a significant decrease in firearms used in female homicides in 2009.
She said there was very strong evidence that South Africa’s firearm control legislation, implemented in 2000, might have had a positive impact.
“Are we really seeing a decrease in gun violence due to the legislation?” she asked.
The report indicates that the number of woman killed by strangulation, stabbing or blunt force stayed the same.
Abrahams said the study showed that South Africa had to really work at the prevention of gender violence against women and children.
“We should not wait for women or children to be killed. We need to prevent.”
In reaction, Gun Free SA chairperson Alan Storey said the study showed that the Firearms Control Act of 2000 had saved more than 800 women’s lives a year.
The number of women shot and killed almost halved from 32% in 1999 to 17% in 2009.
“It provides irrefutable evidence that stricter gun laws save lives,” said Storey, adding that the act saved lives by raising the bar for gun ownership.