Cartoon: Bethuel Mangena/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The ANC Women's League (ANCWL) on Wednesday joined the growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency on gender-based violence, saying the scourge is a national crisis.

This as outcry continues in the wake of more attacks on women and children nationwide in recent weeks. 

South Africa was left reeling following news of the murders of Meghan Cremer, Lynette Volschenk, Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels, Janika Mallo, Uyinene Mrwetyana and Jesse Hess to name a few. Government has been slammed for inaction in the wake of these and other attacks. 

The ANCWL in a statement said: "South Africans we have marched, we have issued statements and we have had summits on violence against women and children and yet the scourge continues. A report released by the Stats SA in June 2018 indicated a drastic increase in the murder rate of women, amounting to a 117% increase between the period of 2015 to 2017. The numbers of women who have encountered rape has escalated from 31 665 in 2015 to 70,813 in 2017, which is a 53% increase.

"The numbers have been escalating despite our efforts and that of civil society, political formations and the public at large. Hence as the ANCWL we believe that we must go deepen our campaigns and efforts in dealing with this scourge. We need to confront violence against women and children with the same viciousness it presents to us.

"Over the past weeks alone, the country has been mourning  deaths of more than 20 woman who have been murdered either by their partners, in their homes and in places that should be a place of refuge for them such as a Post Office. The scourge of violence against women continues to be prevalent in our country and we have all been condemning these acts which undermine women’s rights to live peacefully without fear."

The ANCWL said in light of this, it would intensify its efforts to find solutions and had "opened our doors for engagements with all those who respect women’s autonomy". 

"Right now, we have just held a consultative engagement with our stakeholders, to discuss the scourge of violence against women and children, to consolidate actions in dealing with this scourge.

"Gender-based violence is a national crisis and [at the] top in the resolutions of the stakeholder meeting we have just convened, is calling for the president to declare a state of emergency, to amend sentencing and prosecution of offenders. We also call on all structures of the ANCWL and progressive women within the Mass Democratic Movement to adopt a programme of action to get law enforcement agencies to account on unresolved cases of violence against women and children from [a] local level. 

Some of the ANCWL's resolutions include: Calling for a state of emergency; prosecution and sentencing; chemical castration and localised action.

The league also said it intends to hold a national day of mourning on Thursday that will see women dressed in black to mourn victims, a stay-away next week, demand that Ramaphosa address the nation over the matter and draft petitions and charters on the scourge. 

"Enough is enough, let us all fight violence against women and children," the league said.

IOL