Violence against women is our nation's shame: Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

Sexist and patriarchal attitudes are at the root of gender-based violence.

So said President Cyril Ramaphosa when launching the 16 days of activism campaign in Lephalale‚ Limpopo‚ on Monday.

The annual campaign is aimed at raising awareness around the rights of women and girls‚ and changing the attitudes of men and boys.

"Far too many men and boys believe women are inferior‚ that they are the property of their husbands and fathers‚ and‚ worse yet‚ that women and girls ‘deserve’ to be raped because of how they dress‚ the places they visit‚ and the friends they keep‚" Ramaphosa said.

He said the crisis of violence against women and children was a great shame for South Africa.

"It goes against everything we stand for as a people. We grew up being taught that as men and boys‚ we must respect women and protect children. We were taught to never‚ ever raise your hand against a woman. But we have lost our way."

Ramaphosa said violence against women was not a problem of women‚ it was a problem of men.

"Our message to those who abuse women has been abundantly clear: there is no place in our society for you."

He called on the millions of decent men and boys who would not even think of hurting women to play their part in raising awareness around the rights of women with their colleagues and friends.

"When you know that your friends or colleagues abuse their wives and girlfriends‚ do not keep quiet in the interests of keeping the peace."

Ramaphosa said the Emergency Action Plan‚ with a budget of R1.6bn‚ was launched two months ago to tackle gender-based violence. He said the plan focused on improving access to justice for survivors‚ prevention campaigns to change attitudes and behaviour and measures to strengthen the criminal justice system.

Some aspects of the plan include provinces identifying under-utilised buildings that can be refurbished and used as shelters.

"Four properties in Pretoria have already been refurbished and will open as shelters in the first week of December."

He said government was also working to reduce the gender-based violence case backlogs at forensic laboratories and were developing a tracking mechanism that will be rolled out in January next year.

Ramaphosa said police had allocated 312 new recruits currently undergoing basic training to the family violence‚ child protection and sexual offences units. He said nearly 4‚500 SAPS members had also received training on the provision of survivor-centered services.

The president said 7‚000 rape evidence collection kits have been distributed to police stations countrywide‚ and Limpopo received 700 kits in the first week of this month.

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