File photo: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Good leader Patricia de Lille said on Wednesday that on Human Rights Day South Africans had to reflect on the failure of their rights-based democracy to protect women from violence and poverty.

"Despite a rights-based country, and the protection of the Constitution, we cannot ignore the deplorable trend of femicide and the physical and sexual violence too many women endure, De Lille said in a statement.

"I am proud to have been amongst those who negotiated a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy and I am proud to have been amongst those who wrote our Constitution and our Bill of Rights."
 
Fifty-nine years ago, on 21 March 1960, the violent and inhumane apartheid state mowed down 249 people who were peacefully protesting the “Pass Laws” that disenfranchised black South Africans.

De Lille said those who were killed or injured on Human Rights Day were claiming their basic human rights at a time when people lived in a country that had no regard for human rights.

"On the 21st March we pause to acknowledge those who sacrificed everything for South Africa to achieve democracy and a Constitution with a Bill of Rights that protects every South African."

"We envisaged a country where every human life was treated with respect and protected against prejudice, indignity and violence."

De Lille said South Africa’s rate of femicide was five times more than the global average.

"A new form of human rights abuses is rising and women are the targets. Every South African has a responsibility to uphold our Constitution and to respect the right to life.

"On this Human Rights day I make a call to every man and every woman to respect the rights of girls and women and to end this scourge of femicide and violence."

She called on all parents to teach their girl and boy children that all sexes were equal in South Africa. 

"I retain the dream and the wish of a peaceful, successful rights-based South Africa. I join every South African in celebrating the achievement of a Bill of Rights of which we can all be proud."

African News Agency (ANA)