TotalShutdown campaigners call on Ramaphosa to take action on gender-based violence

Women marched under the banner of #TheTotalShutdown against gender-based violence.
Women marched under the banner of #TheTotalShutdown against gender-based violence.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Activists behind the #TheTotalShutdown campaign are demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa provide real action in his State of the Nation Address to end gender-based violence.

In an open letter to the president, the activists accused him of failing to take immediate action on the scourge of gender-based violence.

“To date, the presidency and government has failed to give this matter the kind of attention it warrants while women continue to die at the rate of one every three hours and the rape of women and children under the age of nine continues to dominate headlines and social media narratives every single day. How long must women continue to die, [be] publicly beaten and raped before this government acts in a coordinated and decisive manner that ensures women’s constitutional rights to safety in this Republic of South Africa,” the letter reads.

The activists further complain that the declaration after the presidential summit against gender-based violence held in November last year has not been signed.

Ramaphosa called the gender summit to get to the problems that have caused the government to fail in ending gender violence in the country.At the summit, survivors of domestic violence laid bare the facts as they detailed their horrific incidents of rape at the hands of men before Ramaphosa and justice minister Michael Masutha.

The summit brought tears to Speaker Baleka Mbete as one rape victim pulled aside her dress to show the public the suffering she endured as a result of the ordeal.

“As the nation anticipates the upcoming State of the Nation Address [Sona 2019], women of this country demand action instead of another speech by the president and government of South Africa. We demand tangible outcomes and real action in the form of budget allocations, competent appointments to addressing this crisis, a declaration of a state of emergency on violence against women and gender nonconforming persons, immediate appointing and resourcing of an interim structure as agreed upon at the gender summit and overall prioritisation of women’s right to safety,” the activists said in their letter.

Efforts to get comment from Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Sangoni-Khawe did not yield any results by the time of publishing.

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