President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa should aim to create a society in which women feel safe and enjoy rights as men do.
Addressing residents at Lusikisiki College in the Eastern Cape on Monday, Ramaphosa affirmed his support for South African women amid an ‘explosion’ of violence against women. With government interventions, Ramaphosa also called for more social dialogue around the issue.
He said that while other countries around the world are dealing with the same gender-based violence issues as South Africa, “we should be different”.
“We have a human rights culture, we have a Constitution that dictates that there should be equality between men and women in our country and there should be fair treatment, there should be understanding which is based on the values enshrined in our constitution,” Ramaphosa said.
He pledged his support for women who, he said, have declared that “enough is enough”.
“We firmly stand behind the women of our country and firmly support the efforts that we all need to take to end this type of violence and also to create a society in which women enjoy safety, dignity and respect.”
In light of the recent crime statistics released last week, Ramaphosa said the nation had been “shaken by the brutal killings of women and acts of violence”.
“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Africa has the fourth highest interpersonal violence death rate in the world,” Ramaphosa claimed.
“There were 52 000 sexual offences reported in SA in 2018/19. Over the last weeks… we have been shaken by the brutal killings of women and acts of violence have just really exploded in this province.”
This, he said, was a call to action for all South Africans to address gender-based violence much more dramatically.
After hearing from residents about their traumatic ordeals with gender-based violence, Ramaphosa said the government was working hard to create serious interventions.
This included the Parliamentary sitting on Wednesday which, he said, would include all political parties which were expected to put forward proposals on ways to tackle to the problem.
While government was doing what they could to intervene, Ramaphosa called for a rigorous social dialogue on the issue, adding that all men need to focus their attention on speaking out against the violence.
“It is the men who rape, it is the men who kill women and therefore there is an obligation on the men of this country to speak out against violence, against harassment and against abuse.
“So the silence which we have been observing throughout must come to an end, men must also now speak out. But we should also begin to talk about the cultural practices… we must, as men speak out and challenge cultural and customary practices that undermine the rights of women and girls and their dignity,” he said.
He added that men should speak out against patriarchy and the belief that men own women. This, he said, could be done by focusing on boy children as much as girl children.
“As communities we must play a bigger role with regard to educating the boy child,” Ramaphosa said.