In 2013, the world came to know of two young women: Jyoti Singh Pandey from India and Anene Booysen from South Africa. Both were gang-raped, brutally attacked and died fighting for their lives. If it wasn’t for their families, outraged citizens, and civil society activists, they would today be nothing more than statistics, two digits added to the alarming number of women raped and murdered worldwide.
Although the fates of Jyoti and Anene received a great deal of publicity and public outcry, they are not unique. In both countries and many more, violent acts against women occur on a daily basis, but are either widely ignored or taken as normalcy. For decades, feminists from across the globe have sought opportunities to think and act together in order to make the struggle against gendered violence a political priority.
During an exchange project implemented between 2013 and 2015 by the India and South Africa offices of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, leading academics, researchers, lawyers, journalists and civil society activists reflected on the following questions: What were the specific dynamics and circumstances that propelled the two cases into national and international prominence? Do state responses and the media adequately address patriarchal gender relations? What needs to happen to improve women’s safety?
We hope that this publication contributes to a deeper understanding of sexualised violence, which is needed to devise impactful legislation and policy. Although national contexts, societies and strategies may differ, as the case studies illustrate, both Jyoti and Anene shall remind us that violence against women has to end. Everywhere.