Africa has the world’s highest rate of intimate partner/family-related homicide, a crime with a disproportionately high number of female victims, a new United Nations report has found.
In Africa, there were 1.7 victims of domestic violence homicides per 100,000 people compared to a global rate of .9. The continent also has the highest female murder rate — 6 victims per 100,000 people, compared to a global rate of 2.7 — but it also has a higher murder rate overall than everywhere except the Americas.
The UN publication African Renewal has observed that in some ways violence against women in Africa is “rooted” in the culture there. From that article:
In a report by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2000, the agency noted that in interviews in Africa and Asia, ‘the right of a husband to beat or physically intimidate his wife’ came out as ‘a deeply held conviction.’ Even societies where women appear to enjoy better status ‘condone or at least tolerate a certain amount of violence against women.’
Africa’s economic decline over the past three decades has left many women in worse conditions. Their plight is so severe, noted a study by the WHO and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), that many women see no option but to remain with husbands who routinely batter them. The women stay because men ‘serve as vital opportunities for financial and social security, or for satisfying material aspirations.’
The problem of violence against women appears to be particularly acute in South Africa, where the female homicide rate of 12.9 per 100,000 women is five times higher than the global rate. In that country, intimate partner homicides make up 57% of female murders.
Violence against women in South Africa has gotten more attention recently because of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. Pistorius, a famous Olympian who’s a double amputee, is accused of being a jealous and critical boyfriend who shot his new girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in cold blood.
Pistorius has talked about how he was “besotted” with Steenkamp, but The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson has pointed out, “A man who tells a woman he loves her — who does, in fact, love her — can kill her, too.”
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