Presisdent Cyril Ramaphosa says if a nation’s character can be judged by how it treats women and children, then South Africa is falling desperately short.
Ramaphosa was addressing the nation in his weekly newsletter on Monday, “From the Desk of the President.”
A week before the launch of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, the latest crime statistics show an increase in rapes, domestic violence, and child murders.
In just three months, between July and September 2021, more than 9,500 people, most of whom were women, were raped while of the nearly 73,000 assault cases reported during this period, more than 13,000 were domestic violence-related.
The rate of child murders has climbed by nearly a third compared to the previous reporting period.
Ramaphosa says these statistics are shameful.
“We are in the grip of a relentless war being waged on the bodies of women and children that, despite our best efforts, shows no signs of abating. We have said before that the violence perpetrated by men against women is the second pandemic that our country must confront, and like the COVID-19 pandemic it can be overcome if we all work together.”
Ramaphosa says what the country has observed over the years is that most of those who take part in the 16 Days of Activism are women and children, those most affected by and concerned about GBV and this needs to change.
“Gender-based violence is, after all, a problem of male violence. It is predominantly men who are rapists. It is mainly men who are perpetrators of domestic violence. Because it is men who are the main perpetrators, it should be men taking the lead in speaking out and reporting gender-based violence, in raising awareness, in peer education and in prevention efforts.”
Ramaphosa says if each man gathered two men and the three pledged to never rape a woman, never lay a hand on a woman and hold each other accountable to this pledge, South Africa could start to seriously tackle gender-based violence in our country.