Cape Town - The outcomes of last year’s national gender summit, held in response to a protest that saw nationwide marches and pickets over violence against women and children in South Africa, are currently in the process of being implemented.
It is almost 13 months since August 2018, when women of all races from all walks of life gathered in all nine provinces as well as in Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia and marched to highlight the plight of women and girls.
The women, who marched under the banner #TotalShutDown, expressed concerns that violence against women and children had reached alarming levels despite South Africa having made strides to protect them through legislative frameworks.
On November 1 and 2, last year, the national government in partnership with various Non-Governmental Organisations held a national gender summit, aiming to address the challenges.
In September 2019, young women of South Africa are still protesting against Gender-based violence with, among other slogans, “How many of us should be raped and murdered, Am I the next?”
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday addressed thousands of protesters outside Parliament, after cutting short his planned participation at the World Economic Forum on Africa, following Wednesday's mass gathering outside the meeting venue at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
The spontaneous protests followed a number of recent violent crimes directed at women and children.
Addressing the protesters, Ramaphosa said: “Last year, arising from a number of calls that women of this country made, we held a gender-based summit and those outcomes of that summit are currently in the process of being implemented.”
According to the presidency, the 2018 summit was an opportunity to share experiences and find collective solutions to end violence and abuse in communities. The recommendations of the summit would guide government and all stakeholders to end violence against women and children.
As Ramaphosa welcomed the memorandum, which was followed by an address, many from the large and visibly distressed crowd shouted, “How many more women must die before our cries are heard?”
Ramaphosa said: “I come before you with great humility, I stand before you with a deep sense of feeling. You have given me your memorandum and I can see all the messages on the placards that you are holding, and I’m internalising all of them."
He told the protesters that he would be addressing most of the issues that were set out in the memorandum during his national address later in the day.
“I will also be talking about much more of what we are intending to do. You have made calls that we should declare a state of emergency. Yes, I will be addressing precisely that issue as well because I agree completely that the killing of women must be brought to an end here in South Africa. And we want the men of our country to take responsibility for the slaughtering of the women of our nation,” Ramaphosa said.
“We will be addressing it and we are going to take a firm stand, we will draw a line in the sand to make sure that as a nation, as a government, we tighten the protection, the defence and the safety of the women of our nation,” he added.
He promised that the government would take the necessary measures for ensuring the safety of women, such as ensuring harsher penalties for men who violated women.
“Because men who rape women, who kill women, and men who do all these things - that abuse women - do not belong in South Africa. We will also be advocating and taking the laws that once you have raped and killed a woman you will get life [in prison] and life must be life,” said Ramaphosa.
Last year, during the summit, a group of women, some of them survivors of gender-based violence, stood in silence, holding up underwear covered in messages addressing the violence.
The summit was followed by calls from various organisations, saying it was now time for action.
African News Agency (ANA)