President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday launched a campaign against gender-based violence which he described as “a great shame.”
Violence against women and children “goes against our African values and everything we stand for as a people,” the president said at the launch ceremony in Lephalale, Limpopo Province which, together with other provinces, has seen a rise in gender-based violence over the past recent months.
South Africa made headlines in recent months during which dozens of women were killed as a new spate of gender-based violence hit the country.
“As I stand before you, I invoke the memories of the many women and girls in this province and throughout the country who have suffered from the brutality of men,” Ramaphosa said.
The campaign, known as 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which falls on November 25.
The national campaign is aimed at raising awareness around the rights of women and girls and changing the attitudes of men and boys.
“I will say it again – violence against women is not a problem of women, it is a problem of men,” he said.
Ramaphosa urged men to play their part in raising awareness around the rights of women.
He said his government has heard the calls by the communities, including the people of Lephalale, to do more to end gender-based violence.
Two months ago, the government announced an Emergency Action Plan that has seen 1.6 billion rand (about 108 million U.S. dollars) of government funding reprioritized towards programs to tackle gender-based violence.
It focuses on improving access to justice for survivors, prevention campaigns to change attitudes and behavior, measures to strengthen the criminal justice system, and the creation of economic opportunities for women who are vulnerable to abuse.
“Since the plan was rolled out, I have been receiving regular weekly updates on our progress,” Ramaphosa said.
The government, he said, is also working to reduce the gender-based violence case backlogs at forensic laboratories and is developing a tracking mechanism that will be rolled out in January next year.
National and provincial 24-hour call centers to deal with complaints against South African Police Service and legal officers in matters of gender-based violence are up and running, and “we have achieved our target of attending to all complaints within seven days,” said Ramaphosa.