South Africa, a country of growing prosperity, is also a country where men, led by a ragged, sickly old Ramaphosa, are stripping away the last vestiges of apartheid. And still, one woman gets raped every five minutes.
The country’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is a lawyer, served as Deputy President of South Africa and has been praised for the contribution he has made to a new South Africa.
Still, Ramaphosa knows that women cannot just march and scream their way to equality. So, the city government and the Department of Home Affairs have decided to offer free co-terminal visas so that citizens of other African countries could apply for and receive South African passports.
The new move comes after an American health organization announced last fall that it will test a new vaccine for cervical cancer, called Covid-19, with the goal of applying it to South African women during 2021.
Women can receive vaccines that provide protection against cervical cancer in a 12-month period, starting in 2021.
The same year that this is slated to take place, the African Nurses Association will give a health conference to women who have had vaginal surgery for infection, known as a hysterectomy. The women will be invited to the conference to receive information on cervical cancer.
What the alliance has not planned, however, is having women apply for South African passports after treatment.
That will not be permitted until after 2019, when the government will remove the high, costliest fees of the passport, according to Cynthia Goitein, who was appointed the department’s commissioner last fall.
“Somebody is going to have to take the initiative and implement the plan,” Goitein said.
She acknowledged that the move would be unpopular and that many ministers were likely to oppose the idea. But Goitein had this message: “If they say no, they are doing it at their own peril.”
The foreign minister has also indicated that he could be open to the idea.
The measure would not address the scarier crime. Dr. Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s foreign minister, said in the annual report of the Home Affairs department in 2016 that the amount of cases of rape had more than doubled since 2011.
It was a grim statistic, which is also on a track to rise after the decision on Friday to lift the restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to South Africa, whose National Health Act authorizes access to the medical costs of a refugee family member.
Because of those costs, the decision, taken as the government continues its progress on cancer and vaccination, was lauded by advocates for women’s rights as a significant breakthrough.
“There is a lot of work to be done yet, but people do believe that there is a change,” Goitein said.