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Am I Next? Commemorating Uyinene Mrwetyana

Should a female college student ever have to fear going to the post office to pick up a package from a loved one or family member? In the country of South Africa, where the rate of femicide (defined by the World Health Organization as violence against women) is 5 times greater than the global average, any situation can turn into a life-threatening one.

Picture: TeenVogue

Uyinene (Oo-ne-ne) Mrwetyana (Moo-het-yana), a 19 year old film and media student at the University of Cape Town, had become victim to this lethal environment. On August 24, Uyinene went missing only to discover a week later, by her classmates, that she had been assaulted and raped by a 42 year old postal worker. A witness recalls that she went to receive a package and was informed that the electricity was off and should return later that evening. When she returned, she was alone with the man, sexually assaulted and brutally beaten with a scale inside the office to silence her screams. A week later her body was found in the city of Khayelitsha. This happened in broad daylight.

Picture: TeenVogue

Social media platforms were quick to respond in outrage of Uyinene’s death. On Twitter and Instagram the hashtag #RIPUyinene and #AmINext was born, striking fear in the beholder. Am I the next one to be preyed on and subsequently sexually assaulted in broad daylight? Sharing and tagging are only the premise of creating awareness. Hundreds of protestors have stormed the conference center in Cape Town – where the World Economic Forum (WEF) is currently taking place – in an effort to put names to the faces of the accusers and put an end to the rape culture in the country.

Wednesday, September 4, her memorial took place. Of the speakers, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Buti Manamela, emphasized that in order to transform our society, the nation has to put a name to the perpetrators, provide proper security for women, empower victims and make it easier to report rape. Manamela adds “If we are silent, were fueling the toxic masculinity and we are part of the problem,” only by physically changing the social constructs, the government can curtail this cycle of rape, hatred and femicide.

 

Kalia is currently a journalism major at the University of Florida. She loves getting involved in all things fashion, jamming out to house music beats and traveling to new places. She is currently an active member of the Black Student Union and spends her leisure reading, sketching and working out. You can keep up with all the things she's involved in through Instagram @k.a.li.a.
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