The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in South Africa

https://www.humantruth.info/south_africa_human_rights_and_freedom.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #south_africa #south_africa_homosexuality #tolerance

South Africa
Republic of South Africa

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index77th best
LocationAfrica
Population57.8m1
Life Expectancy62.34yrs (2017)2

South Africa does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. S. Africa comes in the best 20 in terms of LGBT equality3 (one of the best in Africa) and in freethought4 (one of the best in Africa). It does better than average in terms of its nominal commitment to Human Rights5, commentary in Human Rights Watch reports6, supporting press freedom7 and in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms8. But, things still need to improve in S. Africa. S. Africa does worse than average for the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)9 (still low for Africa), its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice10, opposing gender inequality11 (still good for Africa) and in speed of uptake of HR treaties12. Violence against women is far too prevalent and frequently goes unreported, and the government has yet to introduce a strategy to combat it13. Progress is always going to be difficult in a country where the richest 10% hold 51% of the country's entire income14.


1. South Africa's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Africa (2020)15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15
1S. Africa56.1
2Seychelles66.7
3Namibia69.4
4Mauritius72.4
5Senegal73.8
6Cape Verde75.0
7Burkina Faso76.1
8Mali82.2
9Ghana87.9
10S. Sudan90.5
11Tunisia91.6
12Kenya92.4
13Niger93.8
Africa Avg108.2
q=54.
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15
1Sweden9.0
2Norway14.5
3Denmark14.5
...
43Bolivia53.6
44Peru53.8
45Kosovo54.2
46S. Africa56.1
47Mexico56.4
48Ecuador57.9
49Greece58.1
50Croatia58.1
World Avg87.9
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark16. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu16.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe16, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia16.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in South Africa stated:

Incidents of gender-based violence and early pregnancy continued to increase. Climate change and state mismanagement of infrastructure exacerbated the impacts of two floods in KwaZulu-Natal province. People displaced by floods were unable to access medicine and healthcare while water supplies were disrupted. Sanitation conditions in public schools were poor. The number of households living in informal settlements increased. Operation Dudula, an anti-migrant movement, launched in three additional provinces. Xenophobic violence resulted in injury and loss of life. Police continued to use excessive force in attempts to quell protests; the right to life and security of the person was violated. The authorities failed to ensure that the mining industry complied with standards to prevent human rights violations. There was an absence of legislation to hold government and corporate companies accountable to climate commitments.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)17

In 2017, the government´s record on human rights and respect for the rule of law was poor. [...] The government failed to realize the right to education for many children andyoung adults with disabilities. The absence of a national strategy to combat the high rate of violence against women, and the continued under-reporting of rape, remained a concern. [...]

Despite recurring waves of xenophobic attacks on businesses and the homes of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants, authorities appeared reluctant to even publicly acknowledge xenophobia and take decisive action to combat it, including ensuring proper police investigations. Virtually no one has been convicted over past outbreaks of xenophobic violence, including for the Durban violence of April 2015 that displaced thousands of foreign nationals, or the 2008 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people across the country.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

In 1948, just eight countries abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. South Africa refused, "because of the provisions on racial equality" which contradicted the doctrine of apartheid18.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better6
Pos.2017
Score6
1=UK9
1=France9
1=Germany9
...
54Tunisia-2
55=Mexico-2
55=Sri Lanka-2
55=S. Africa-2
55=Singapore-2
55=Haiti-2
60Serbia-3
61=Papua New Guinea-3
Africa Avg-5.6
World Avg-1.9
q=123.
When it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, South Africa ranks 49th in the world.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better5
Pos.2009
Treaties5
1Argentina24
2=Chile23
2=Costa Rica23
...
36Macedonia20
37=Slovakia20
37=Honduras20
37=S. Africa20
37=Liechtenstein20
37=Iceland20
37=Romania20
37=Bulgaria20
Africa Avg14.8
World Avg15.1
q=194.
In terms of its nominal commitment to Human Rights, South Africa comes 29th in the world.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better12
Pos.2019
Avg Yrs/Treaty12
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
141Turkmenistan12.35
142Serbia12.44
143Indonesia12.45
144S. Africa12.51
145Bahrain12.55
146Haiti12.61
147Pakistan12.66
148Monaco12.76
Africa Avg9.88
World Avg10.02
q=195.
South Africa ranks 144th in the world in terms of speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better8
Pos.2014
Rank8
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
71Bolivia71
72Indonesia72
73Turkey73
74=S. Africa74
74=Papua New Guinea74
76Nicaragua76
77=Paraguay77
77=Mexico77
Africa Avg114.2
World Avg79.7
q=159.
When it comes to supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, South Africa comes 74th in the world.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)19

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better7
Pos.20137
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
48Haiti2409
49S. Korea2448
50Comoros2452
51S. Africa2456
52Japan2517
53Argentina2567
54Moldova2601
55Hungary2609
Africa Avg3511
World Avg3249
q=178.
South Africa ranks 51st in the world regarding supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index20

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery
Lower is better
21
Pos.2018
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2=Canada0.05
2=Taiwan0.05
...
55Algeria0.27
56=Barbados0.27
57China0.28
58=S. Africa0.28
59Slovakia0.29
60=Czechia0.29
60=Guatemala0.29
60=Nicaragua0.29
Africa Avg0.96
World Avg0.65
q=167.
South Africa comes 57th in the world in terms of eliminating modern slavery.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi29, Eritrea29, Indonesia30) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery31.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

S. Africa has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

Violence against women, including rape and domestic violence, remain widespread and underreported. According to research findings published in August 2017 by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and Oxfam South Africa, one in five women older than 18 has experienced physical violence, and three women die at the hands of their partner every day. Thegovernment has yet to introduce a national strategy to combat violence against women.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
11
Pos.201511
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
87Sri Lanka0.39
88Ecuador0.39
89Colombia0.39
90S. Africa0.39
91Kyrgyzstan0.39
92Brazil0.41
93Jamaica0.42
94Algeria0.43
Africa Avg0.54
World Avg0.36
q=159.
South Africa ranks 90th in the world regarding opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
9
Pos.2022
%9
1Sweden31.832
2New Zealand34.433
3Australia37.033
...
56Kenya95.733
57Tunisia96.833
58Zambia97.134
59S. Africa97.132
60Mongolia97.433
61Uzbekistan97.932
62Kyrgyzstan98.133
63Palestine98.232
Africa Avg98.10
World Avg83.93
q=88.
South Africa is positioned 59th in the world when it comes to the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators).

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
Pos.0
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
31=St Lucia1924
32Turkmenistan1927
33UK1928
34S. Africa1930
35=Sri Lanka1931
35=Spain1931
37Maldives1932
38=Uruguay1932
Africa Avg1961
World Avg1930
q=189.
South Africa ranks 34th in the world in terms of the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
10
Pos.2014
%10
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
65=Chile37
65=Azerbaijan37
67Ukraine38
68=S. Africa38
68=Belarus38
68=Peru38
71Colombia41
72=Hungary41
Africa Avg45.9
World Avg36.8
q=101.
South Africa comes 68th in the world regarding its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews35,36,37,38. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East39, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews40,41. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"42. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males43.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

South Africa's constitution protects LGBT rights and prohibits discrimination based on sexuality - "The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has taken significant steps to improve coordination between government and civil society in combatting violence (including rape and murder) against lesbians and transgender men"13.

The South African parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2006 [but lets] religious institutions and civil officers to refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, a provision that critics claim violates the rights of same-sex couples under the constitution.

The new measure passed by a margin of greater than five-to-one, with support coming from both the governing African National Congress as well as the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. However, the traditional monarch of the Zulu people, who account for about one-fifth of the country´s population, maintains that homosexuality is morally wrong.

"Gay Marriage Around the World" by Pew Forum (2017)44

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
3
Pos.2017
Score3
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
4Brazil81
5Spain79
6=France78
6=S. Africa78
8Uruguay77
9=Norway72
9=Denmark72
9=Iceland72
12UK72
Africa Avg-10.4
World Avg12.6
q=196.
(one of the best in Africa)In terms of LGBT equality, South Africa is positioned 6th-best in the world.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence45. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws46. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries45. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
4
Pos.20214
1=Belgium1.0
1=Netherlands1.0
1=Taiwan1.0
...
12Norway1.5
13Mongolia1.7
14=Guinea-Bissau1.7
14=S. Africa1.7
16S. Korea1.8
17=Albania1.8
17=Palau1.8
17=USA1.8
Africa Avg3.1
World Avg3.0
q=196.
(one of the lowest in Africa)Regarding freethought, South Africa ranks 13rd-best in the world.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights47. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish48. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era49 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted50. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief51. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands4,52 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia4,53.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed54. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief48, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion55 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"56 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see: