South Africans must end femicide and strive to always protect the women and children in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.The president said this in a virtual address as the country observed Women’s Day, in which he appealed to his compatriots to end the scourge of femicide and gender-based violence (GBV).
According to police records, three women are murdered every three hours in the country.
“Ever more women and children are being abused and losing their lives at the hands of men. As we mark Women’s Day this year, we are in the grip of two pandemics: the coronavirus pandemic and the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide,” Ramaphosa said.
According to the president, “it cannot be that this Women’s Day is drenched in the tears of families who have lost their sisters, daughters and mothers to violence perpetrated by men.”
Women’s Day commemorates a 1956 women’s march to the country’s Union Buildings (seat of government) to demand their rights in a campaign against apartheid.
Ramaphosa recalled that “sixty-four years ago, our mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers stood defiant and proud, united in their demand to live in freedom.”
This freedom included the right to have the government take concrete actions to provide them with greater support and care to GBV survivors.
“We have increased the number of shelters and care centres for survivors, and improved the capacity of our police to deal with crimes of gender-based violence.
“We have made important progress in reforming our laws to give greater protection to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
“One of the most important ways to reduce the vulnerability of women to gender-based violence is to enable them to become financially independent.
“We have an opportunity to build a country in which women’s right to dignity, security, safety and protection is non-negotiable,” Ramaphosa said.