WATCH: Activists demand 365-day campaign to tackle gender-based violence
Cape Town - Activists are once again calling on government to have a 365-day gender-based violence campaign to tackle the scourge of femicide currently gripping South Africa.
Wednesday saw various marches take place across the Western Cape following the spate of rapes and murders of women nationwide.
In the morning, a group aligned to the Total Shutdown: Intersectional Women's Movement Against GBV (gender-based violence) staged a silent protest outside the summit.
They were joined by hundreds of students who had demonstrated outside Parliament, causing disruptions to traffic in the CBD.
Protesters urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to call a state of emergency as countless women and children have been brutally raped and/or murdered including Uyinene Mrwetyana, Jesse Hess, Leighandré Jegels, Janika Mallo, Lynette Volschenk and Meghan Cremer.
Activists and students are calling on government to have a 365 day gender-based violence to tackle the scourge of femicide currently gripping South Africa. Video: Riana Andrews
Tandi Hopa from Total Shutdown, in an interview with IOL, said that the current 16-day campaign held annually is not enough.
"We need a 365-day campaign from the government. We've seen how... Aids, when it was declared a crisis how it was treated. There were TV programmes funded, there were billboards you know. We still have not seen any of that. And when we are still led by perpetrators themselves, there is no accountability anyway.
"So if government is not hold accountable their own employees that they put in the frontline to lead us, then really where are we going as a nation? These are really quick wins for government, they can implement that tomorrow. It doesn't have to take two years as they are suggesting.
Some of the solutions Hopa suggested to deal with the scourge included the creation of a central database for protection orders as it's easy for victims to lose them in their current form and cannot be traced. Another suggestion Hopa mentioned was harsher sentences for perpetrators as well as no bail.
"Re-victimisation of survivors is [also] a problem. People are actually scared to report rape because they will be victimised by police and the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] in court. So police, legislators need to be educated, that whole process needs to be streamlined and it needs to be pro-victim rather than pro-perpetrator."
"Gender-based violence is multi-layered as well. There's the issue of women not being employed, housing. It goes deeper and deeper, we need to put women, they need to put women in the frontline of the economy. They need to be empowered, they need to be educated. Those are just high-level, the issues that I think will help."
Questioned on a plan of action if Wednesday's protests bear no fruit, Hopa said this was not the end and that the movement would keep pushing despite the debates and summits held on the matter.
"I don't know what it will take for government to actually act on this because we want to see [President] Cyril [Ramaphosa] on TV declaring this a national crisis. He needs to come out and give a plan with SAPS because SAPS is the biggest issue. We've seen how cases dropped, lost, incorrect booking you know. There is just no formal process or working process that's pro-victim. They're men after all, they must come up with solutions."
A first year UCT student also added to the chorus of voices. She said: "We are sick and tired of not being. Why did someone have to die for us to be heard?... Whether we are quiet, we get killed, when we talk we get we killed, so we would rather fight".
A second year student, also from UCT, added: "There is no safety or security on campus as students, we want (President) Cyril Ramaphosa to address us, because we are tired, we are angry".
A male student from UCT said he was at the protest as an ally.
"I feel that rape should be declared a state of emergency because that is the challenge we are fighting for, better protection and a better justice system," he said.
An activist said: "I am a mother and I am really really angry, I don't even know what to say, but I think it is time now for Parlimanterians to come with a concrete plan and resources to respond, we need a state of emergency, it is really important. It seems like they are ignoring it, I don't know if its because they are not affected because of they are very secure and safe, but for us who walk down the streets at night, it is very bad. It is so bad that even when you take your child to the school it is not safe, in the restaurant, it is not safe, in the churches it is not safe, in the toilet and in the Post Office, it is not safe. Where are our children safe, if they do not respond, that means there is no future in South Africa, there is nothing," she said.
Another student said: "This is a start, we want this to be addressed so that more women feel safe and that they take thisissue really seriously".