Why Uyinene’s rape and murder were a tipping point

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Why Uyinene’s rape and murder were a tipping point

Why have the rape-homicides of other women not had the same impact on the collective consciousness?

Journalist

Uyinene Mrwetyana’s brutal rape-homicide in a Cape Town post office didn’t just ignite a national conversation. It galvanised an entire protest movement that drew in thousands of people and wound up in the ear of President Cyril Ramaphosa. What he does with it is yet to be seen – but it certainly does feel like we are in new terrain in terms of public action.

With countless other rapes and incidents of femicide in the country on any given day, some have wondered what it was about Uyinene in particular that made her death a tipping point. How did a 19-year-old student unwittingly become a martyr to a cause that has been stuck in its own holding pattern for so long?

The outrage is an entirely appropriate response, and the fact that total strangers have cried over her death is fitting. But the interesting question remains: why have the rape-homicides of other women and even little girls not had the same impact on the collective consciousness?..

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