What about women miners?

South African sunset, Rustenberg

South African sunset, Rustenberg (Photo credit: mobiledisco)

Mining projects often bring with them the risk of increased violence against women living in the local communities. But what about the women working in the mines? They too have been, and continue to be, subject to violence.

In February 2012, Pinky Mosiane was raped and murdered at the Anglo Platinum mine where she worked in Rustenberg, South Africa. To date, no-one has been arrested for her death.

In an excellent article out this week, Who killed Pinky Mosiane, Sisonke Msimang explores the backdrop to Ms Mosiane’s murder, the inaction that has followed it and its relation to ‘how unions treat women and address matters of gender-based violence.’

Despite the fact that all fatalities that happen underground have to be investigated by the mine, little seems to have been done to catch the culprit. At the time, the spokesperson for the Chamber of Mines described Mosiane’s murder as a ‘gender’ issue, rather than as something the Chamber of Mines should deal with.

For Msimang, ‘this response also sheds light on the problems that women in the mining sector face. No one is prepared to acknowledge that women’s rights are workers’ rights. No one is prepared to recognise that sexism underpins the gender division of labour underground.’

This comes at a time where the Mining Charter is pushing to increase the amount of women working in the mines to 13%. But while an increased female workforce is much-needed and would help change attitudes, is it fair to send more women to the mines where they might face sexual harassment and danger?

Read the article in full. 

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