“Violence against women has become more than a national crisis. It is a crime against our common humanity.”
These are the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa as he addressed the nation on Thursday evening through a national broadcast on radio and television on matters of public and gender-based violence (GBV) that have gripped the country.
The broadcast followed a personal address by the President to thousands of protesters who had marched to Parliament to express their anger at gender-based violence on Thursday morning.
Protesters delivered a memorandum which calls for tougher measures against men who abuse women.
The President welcomed the protesters’ demands and assured demonstrators that the criminal justice system will deal more harshly with perpetrators.
Protests on gender-based violence ensued this week following the recent murders of women in the country.
“The nation is mourning the deaths of several women and girls who were murdered by men.
“We know the names of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Janika Mallo, Ayakha Jiyane and her three little siblings but we also grieve for many others who have died at the hands of men,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa termed the violence against women as a “war” being waged.
“Like millions of men across this country, I am appalled at the war being waged on our sisters, our mothers, our wives, our partners and our daughters.
“Women have every right to expect that they be free from harassment and violence on the streets, in schools and campuses, on buses, taxis and trains, at places of work and worship, and in their homes,” he said.
Violence against women is a men’s problem
President Ramaphosa said violence against women is not a women’s problem.
“It is not a problem of what a woman said or did, what a woman was wearing, or where she was walking. Violence against women is a men’s problem. It is men who rape and kill women. There is therefore an obligation on the men of this country to act to end such behaviour and such crimes,” he said.
He said men must speak out. “We must not look away. We must face gender-based violence head-on. Let us, as families, make sure that we raise boys to respect women, to respect themselves, to value life and human dignity.”
“As South African men, let us take responsibility for our actions. We must treat the women and girls of our country with care and respect. It is only when we do that that we will end violence against women and children. Let us declare that enough is enough,” President Ramaphosa said.