Imagine that the Cape Times had published an article entitled "Look at the pictures and ask yourself: why whites?" Imagine that that article then told the gruesome stories of five "white" victims of violent crime in South Africa. Imagine, finally, that the byline of this article stated that its author would look at "some of the most notorious and brutal crimes that shook the province this year, all perpetrated by blacks".
Such an article would rightly cause outrage. It would be criticised for demonising "blacks" and for focusing only on "white" victims of crime, thereby ignoring the fact that "whites" constitute a minority of victims of violent crime.
How is it then that the Cape Times did publish an article entitled "Look at the pictures and ask yourself: why women and children?" with a byline indicating that "Tanya Farber looks at some of the most notorious and brutal crimes that shook the province this year, all perpetrated by men" ( December 29, 2011)?
This question will strike many as absurd. Violence against women and children, they will say, is a scourge - a grotesque feature of our and many other societies - and demands our urgent attention. This, they will say, is why there are campaigns working against "violence against women and children".
Violence against women and children is indeed a serious problem, and one that merits attention. However, what is routinely ignored is that with the exception of sexual violence, the victims of which are disproportionately female, it is men who are the overwhelming majority of victims of violent crime.
According to South African Police Service statistics for the 2009-2010 financial year, there were 16 834 murders in the country. Of these, 2 457 were women and 965 were children (of either sex). That means that about 80 percent of the victims of murder were adult males.
There were 17 410 attempted murders in the same year. This includes 3 008 adult female victims and 1 117 child victims. In other words, more than 75 percent of the victims of attempted murder were adult males.
In the category of "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm", there were 12 062 child victims,62 143 adult female victims, and 131 088 adult male victims.
Nor is it only in South Africa that males constitute the overwhelming majority of the victims of (non-sexual) violence. It is a universal phenomenon.
What justifies the disproportionate concern for violence against women and children and the neglect of violence against men? …