Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has visited a memorial to a young South African woman whose rape and murder inspired thousands of people to protest the country’s high rate of sexual violence.
In a quiet stop during a royal tour, Meghan tied a ribbon to the memorial at the post office where 19-year-old university student Uyinene Mrwetyana was attacked last month. The assault has led outraged women to march in the streets in major cities and rally behind an online campaign called #AmINext.
A post on the royals’ Instagram account called the death “a critical point in the future of women’s rights in South Africa” and said the visit was “personally important” to Meghan.
The duchess also has spoken with Mrwetyana’s mother, the post said, adding that “the Duke and Duchess had been following what had happened from afar and were both eager to learn more when they arrived in South Africa.”
More than 100 rapes are reported every day in South Africa, and President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the country “one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.” He announced new emergency measures and vowed to be tougher on perpetrators, but some women weary of years of such pronouncements have suggested that South Africa bring back the death penalty for rapists.
The scope of the problem is well-known. More than 2,700 women were murdered in South Africa last year, and more than 1,000 children, the government says. One in five women over age 18 have faced physical violence from a partner.
Women’s empowerment is one of the many issues that Meghan and Prince Harry are highlighting on their first official tour as a family with their baby, Archie. The 10-day, multi-country visit continued on Saturday for Harry with a meeting in Angola with the president of the southern African nation.
The prince on Friday followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.