September 20, 2020

South Africa sees sexist violence as a national "crisis" and announces measures

The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, admitted today that sexist violence should be treated as a national "crisis" and announced measures and a tightening of penalties, in response to the massive protests this week in the country, where eight women die each day.

"Violence against women has become more than a national crisis, it is a crime against our humanity," the president said in a message addressed to the nation from Cape Town (southwest of South Africa), where he was attending the African edition of the World Economic Forum.

"Violence against women is not a problem of women, of what they say or do, of what a woman sees or where she walks. Violence against women is a problem of men … It is, therefore, the obligation of men to act to end such behaviors and crimes, "he said.

Ramaphosa acknowledged that cases of deaths or abuses against women and children, such as those that in recent days left South Africa "traumatized" and led to the latest protests in the streets, "have become too common" and action is necessary.

Among the provisions to be adopted, he announced the modernization of the sex offender registry and asked Parliament to make that list public or review all cases of sexist violence that have not been properly investigated.

He will also study with his cabinet that these crimes involve "tougher minimum penalties" and defended that "life sentences" should effectively mean "life imprisonment" for those who commit crimes against women and children, in addition to advocating that The Prosecutor's Office opposes any request for bail in these cases.

Hours earlier, Ramaphosa had cut its participation in the World Economic Forum for Africa to address the popular clamor at the gates of Parliament's headquarters, located in Cape Town, where hundreds of people had gathered under slogans such as "Enough is enough" and dressed in black

This demonstration and others convened in recent days demand that the Government address sexist violence in terms of national crisis, with more guarantees for rapists and murderers to be brought before the law, tightening of sentences – with requests even for the establishment of death penalty – and more public funds for the problem.

The protests are triggered by the recent murder and rape of a student at the University of Cape Town, Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, at the hands of a postal worker.

After his death, there were multiple student protests in the streets and universities, as well as campaigns on social networks.

This Wednesday, discontent already achieved great international resonance at the gates of the Cape Town International Convention Center, during the inauguration of the World Economic Forum for Africa.

Thousands of people gathered banners flying with slogans such as "We are tired of being scared" or "Stop investing your money in a land that allows violators to walk free."

Violence against women is a serious problem in South Africa, where it is estimated that at least eight die each day, according to data collected by the Police between 2017 and 2018 (the latest available).

These police statistics do not distinguish the events of sexist violence and violence related to criminality in general (also widespread in the country).

In South Africa, not only is murder a scourge, but rapes and other sexual crimes have a great presence and, according to police data, about 110 rapes are reported on average every day.

. (tagsToTranslate) South Africa (t) violence (t) sexist (t) national (t) announces

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