ANC Women's League members display a banner during a march. File picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
As today marks the start of Women’s Month, police said strides to deal with crimes against women and children continued to yield positive results, with the arrest of two suspects for rape cases.

A suspected rapist was arrested for allegedly raping his sister-in-law during a party in Nyanga at the weekend, while another suspect was arrested yesterday over the rape of a 13-year-old boy in Browns Farm.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said these crimes were at the top of the police’s priority list and every endeavour would be made to apprehend the perpetrators.

Today, tens of thousands of women were expected to participate in the #TotalShutDown march across the nine provinces to denounce crimes against women.

Sonke Gender Justice policy development and advocacy specialist Marike Keller said: “Many cases don’t result in the apprehension of suspects and most cases of rape go unreported, with one large contributing factor being the secondary victimisation victims face when they report to police.”

She said this Women’s Month, and every month of the year, focus should be placed in addressing barriers women faced in reporting rape.

“We call on the SAPS to roll out comprehensive sensitivity training for all its officers to ensure that safe spaces are created for women to report.”

Siya Monakali, spokesperson for Ilitha Labantu, an organisation advocating for women’s rights, said: “Irrespective of it being Women’s Month or not, we ought to expect the police to prioritise crimes against women and children throughout the year.

“We believe that all cases should be treated with the same level of urgency.”

He said that not enough was being done to reduce the number of incidents of violence perpetrated against women and children.

“Every year the incident rate is on the rise. Proactive measures need to be in place to adequately address this issue.

“It becomes problematic that we only focus on women and children’s issues during Women’s Month and the 16 Days of Activism when these issues affect women and children on a daily basis.

“We can use Women’s Month to reflect on the status of women in society, but as a nation we ought to prioritise violence against women and children because it has reached epidemic proportions,” Monakali added.

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