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Pretoria - Tshwane metro councillors have taken a stand against sexual violence and the abuse of women and children. The councillors have taken a pledge denouncing the “brutal and unlawful atrocities inflicted upon women and children”.
They also committed themselves on Thursday to “engage men and boys in the prevention of violence against women and children”.
In a snap debate on rape and violence against women and children, some councillors called for rapists to be castrated and given long prison terms.
Azanian People’s Organisation councillor Mankoto Lesufi said that in most instances those who raped or abused women and children were close relatives.
“In most instances the perpetrators are brothers and uncles who are supposed to protect the victims,” he said.
Lesufi said women and children had become “a hunted species”.
Workshops and seminars had been held to make people aware of rape and abuse of women and children, but they seem not to have had the desired effect.
“It is high time we jump into real action,” said Lesufi, adding that the justice system had failed the victims of rape and other forms of abuse. Perpetrators should be sent to prison for life or castrated, he said.
Cope councillor Tendani Babane said the problem South Africa was facing was huge. Contributing factors included poverty and substance abuse, he said.
African Christian Democratic Party councillor Derrick Kissoonduth said South Africa had the highest number of rape cases in the world. Men must stand up and protect women and children.
“Our statistics are alarming. People are scared to visit the country because of the high (crime) rate. We must do something to protect the dignity of our country,” he said.
ANC councillor Alphina Ndlovana said violence against women and children was a violation of their human rights. “It causes a terrible and emotional pain,” she said.
In most instances the perpetrators were not strangers, but people the victims knew, Ndlovana said.
Fellow ANC councillor Brian Hlatswayo urged other members of the council to make every day a day of activism for non-violence against women and children. “It is up to us to ensure that women and children no longer live in fear,” he said.
Freedom Front Plus councillor Phillip van Staden said: “Our country is sick to the core. Men should wake up and do something.”
DA councillor Marietha Aucamp said rape and sexual violence were not about sex, but about exercising power over another human being.
“The DA calls on the government and all stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of policies, laws and practices to protect women and girls from violence and abuse.”
Society needed cohesive family structures and male role models and for men “to engage in holistic programmes to prevent and end violence against women and children”.
“It is sad to think that after the fight against apartheid was won, a new fight was born - women who have to fight for their safety and dignity,” Aucamp said.”