Vryburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday termed gender-based a national crisis and an affront to the Constitution.
In a Women's Day address in Vryburg, in North West, the president said: "Gender-based violence is a crisis across our land. It is the worst form of desecration of the Constitution and its promise of gender equality."
Ramaphosa said the phenomenon appeared to defy government's efforts to fight the abuse of women, including passing legislation, creating specialised courts and police units, and setting up shelters to house victims.
"Despite our best efforts, despite our progressive laws and policies, this country’s women and girls live in fear. On the streets, in schools and universities, in churches and places of worship and, worst of all, in their homes.
"We must acknowledge here, as we have in the past, the stubborn persistence of patriarchy that leads men to think they are superior to their mothers, their wives and their daughters," he added.
Ramaphosa said it meant many men assumed that they had the right to decide how women behaved and whether girls attended school or not.
'These attitudes are driving the abuse of women across society, whether they are young or old, black or white, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, rural or urban, gender conforming or non-gender conforming.
"As South Africans, we can no longer stand by as this evil sinks even deeper roots in our society."
He said a gender-based violence steering committee would soon begin provincial consultations on a national strategic plan to end gender-based violence, and the department of justice was in the process of amending the national policy framework on the management of sexual offences.
Government was also reviewing the Domestic Violence Act to strengthen its provisions around domestic homicide and the enforcement of protection orders.
"We all have a responsibility to end gender-based violence. As men we become partners in abuse when we remain silent as other men use money or violence to dominate their girlfriends and wives. As parents, as grandparents, as uncles and aunts, let us rid ourselves of old attitudes that value boys over girls."
African News Agency (ANA)