Medical Research Council to start national femicide study next month

10 September 2019 - 16:32 By Dan Meyer
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) will launch a fresh probe into gender-based violence in SA.
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) will launch a fresh probe into gender-based violence in SA.
Image: 123RF/Tinnakorn Jorruang

With the country in the midst of a scourge of femicide incidents, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said on Tuesday it would start its third “national femicide study” in October.

The study — which will be conducted through the council's gender and health research unit (GHRU) — aims to highlight a growing trend of gender-based violence. It builds on two previous reports, in which damning findings showed that three women were killed each day in South Africa by an intimate partner in 2009.

The council was able to also describe sexual homicide as part of the femicide studies and we showed one in five (494 of 2,670) women who were killed in 2009 died in the context of sexual violence,” said SAMRC spokesperson Keletso Ratsela.

“Similarly, for the same period, one in 12 (104 of 1,277) child homicides had evidence of sexual violence as part of the murder.”

The findings are set to be published in 2021, to give the research unit time to incorporate “multi-faceted approach and lengthy processes” into the study, which will be funded by the council and the Ford Foundation.

Alongside this study, the SAMRC will also repeat the National Child Homicide Study, given the strong links between violence against women and violence against children,” said Ratsela.

GHRU acting director, Prof Naeemah Abrahams, said dedicated femicide studies were crucial to finding out the true extent of gender-based violence.

“The first national femicide study established that South Africa has an intimate femicide rate that far exceeds documented rates for other countries,” she said. 

“In 1999 we found that four women were killed per day by an intimate partner. We repeated the femicide study to look at women killed in 2009 and, although there was a decline, it remained that more than 1,000 women were killed by an intimate, which related to three women a day,” she said.

Abrahams said she hoped the study would contribute to gender violence prevention strategies by helping policymakers comprehend the issue in a more aggregated manner than current data allows.