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Fighting rape in South Africa's 'broken system'

February 13th, 2013
04:29 PM ET

By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti, CNN

The brutal rape, mutilation and eventual death of a 17-year-old girl in South Africa could be a watershed moment for the country, opposition leader Lindiwe Mazibuko told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

Mazibuko is a Member of Parliament, and one of South Africa's loudest voices calling for change.

“It’s taken this kind of heinous act for the government to actually stand up and say we need to do something about this,” Mazibuko said. “So, on some level it’s clear enough hasn’t been done.”

The shocking rape, which occurred on February 1, two hours outside of Cape Town, has brought the issue of sexual violence to the fore and enraged the nation.

President Jacob Zuma has called for the harshest penalties for the perpetrators. Many South Africans are expecting Zuma to address the country’s calls for cultural change in his upcoming yearly address.

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Some 70% of South African women report being victims of sexual abuse.

Mazibuko says South Africa needs more oversight of the police, and investigations when the criminal justice system fails.

A lack of jobs and education are feed-in factors, according to Mazibuko.

“Young men,” she said, “who feel emasculated in a country where they can’t work, where they can’t feel like they are validated by some type of economic activity, become susceptible to situation where a woman becomes a punching bag for them to take out their frustrations on.”

She also says there must be a change in South African culture and that the country must partake in a national dialogue on sexual violence.

“We need to deal with the fact we live in a society where there is an unequal relationship between men and women,” Mazibuko said. “To the extent that men feel like women are their possessions with which they can do whatever they like, and it starts in seemingly small ways.”

In the video above you can watch her discussion with Christiane Amanpour about combating sexual violence in South Africa.

READ MORE: Teen's killing outrages South Africa


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Sexual Assault • South Africa