Anene Booysen, we remember you

Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen was raped in an attack which shocked the country.

Anene Booysen was raped and murdered in Bredasdorp. Picture: Chanel September/EWN

CAPE TOWN - One year after the rape and murder of 17-year-old

Anene Booysen, gender equality activists say keeping her memory alive is a potent reminder of the scourge and brutality of gender based violence in South Africa.

Booysen was found half naked and disembowelled at a construction site in Bredasdorp in the Western Cape after she was gang-raped.

She survived to name one of her attackers and to say that she was raped by five or six men.

Booysen died of her extensive injuries in the Tygerberg Hospital, six hours after she was found on 2 February 2013.

Months later, Johannes Kana was sentenced to two life terms in prison for the crime.

South Africans responded with disbelief and horror when the news broke of Booysen's rape and murder.

Mbuyisile Botha, media and government relations manager of the Sonke Gender Justice Network, says it's inevitable that the initial anger South Africans expressed at Booysen's untimely and brutal end would subside with time.

"People went about their business as usual and as it often happens there's initial outrage, and understandably so, but there's no momentum on the ground to sustain the action against rape. There is no programme that speaks to men and boys continuously. We close the stable when the horse has bolted."

Kathleen Dey, Rape Crisis director, similarly points out that it's near impossible to have sustained the rage initially expressed at Booysen's death.

"We need to address the drivers of rape in our communities, namely; inequality, alcohol and drug abuse, high rates of HIV and the prevailing myths and stereotypes about rape that leave rape survivors unsupported, disbelieved and marginalised."

Dey applauded the media's coverage of Booysen's rape and murder, saying it resulted in ordinary citizens taking action against rape.

"The role the media played in leveraging this case to highlight the scourge of rape for the whole country was incredibly valuable.

Rape Crisis, whose main programmes include, counselling rape survivors, training and raising awareness, found itself in the financial doldrums in the recent past, as funding sources trickled to a stop.

It is this kind of donor funding for organisations doing work in the gender-based violence space that is so elusive, leading to many shutting their doors at worst, or severely cutting back on the services that they once regularly provided.

Kerryn Rehse, operations manager for Mosaic, says that protest action against gender-based violence was and continues to be ineffective.

"We need financial support instead of a social media campaign in order to continue to create awareness and to continue the conversation about it."

Rehse suggests changing attitudes about rape also means challenging friends and family when they make sexist or degrading jokes about women.

While Booysen's gruesome rape and murder shocked the nation, it's the seemingly invisible assaults held in common held beliefs about women or myths about rape that feeds into the physical manifestation of abuse of women.

Summing it up Rehse asked: "Are you man enough or women enough to stand up?"