Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. In honour of the event, I’m taking a slight detour from my usual literary topics to try and raise awareness of some of the issues facing women across the world, and in particular, in South Africa.
Last month, while reading Cosmopolitan magazine’s special feature on International Women’s Day, I came across a shocking statistic, so shocking in fact that I felt compelled to write about it. A massive 37% of South African men admit to rape, although only a tiny percentage of these crimes are reported. What makes this worse is that South Africa has a 24.8% HIV & AIDS infection rate, affecting an estimated 5 million adults and children. The high rape count could be considered a driving factor behind that fact that the majority of new cases of HIV infection are women or girls (unfortunately, some men in the country still believe that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS, resulting in a high number of increasingly young victims).
One organisation that’s committed to helping address this issue is VSO (http://www.vso.org.uk/), an international development charity that works with communities across the globe. In particular, it’s doing a lot of work in South Africa to achieve equality for women. With one in four women fleeing their homes as a result of domestic violence, the work of charities in this area is vitally important. Many women are also financially dependant on men and face the additional challenge of caring for family members living with, or orphaned by, AIDS related illnesses.
International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the issues – like this one – that women worldwide face on a daily basis, so this is just a quick shout out to encourage everyone to take the opportunity to help spread the word and to do something to support the efforts of these charities, not just today but all year round.
* all facts are sourced from the VSO website (here) and Cosmopolitan March 2013 issue, p73