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OPENING-ZUMA-RAPE by Chantall Presence
PARLIAMENT Feb 14 Sapa
ZUMA ORDERS ACTION AGAINST RAPISTS
Law enforcement agencies have been ordered to prioritise cases of rape and murder against women and children, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
He said the gang rape and murder of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen showed that a collective approach was needed in the fight against the scourge.
The 17-year-old was raped and disembowelled on February 1, attracting international attention to the abuse and rape of women and girls in South Africa.
"The brutality and cruelty meted out to defenceless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country," Zuma said during his state-of-the-nation address.
Zuma said the National Council on Gender Based Violence, which was established last year, should make the campaign to fight violence against women an "everyday campaign".
The council is made up of, among others, NGOs, civil society groups, government and research institutions.
"We applaud all sectors for the campaigns that have taken place already, highlighting that such acts will not be tolerated," Zuma said.
The president said the police's family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) units were continually being bolstered with increased personnel.
"During the last financial year, the units secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73 percent for crimes against women above 18-years-old and 70 percent for crimes against children under 18 years of age."
Zuma said the implementation of other laws would be prioritised, including the Protection from Harassment Bill.
The bill is intended to deal with the harassment of people, mostly women, by stalkers.
"While the Domestic Violence Act also provides protection, it only applies to persons who are in a domestic relationship," he said.
The Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was also due to be signed into law this year.
"Once implemented, the law will assist women and children, who are often victims of this heinous crime."
/cp/hdw/clh/dd 02/14/13 20-38