Africa

South Africa: Violence against women like a war - Ramaphosa

protest in durban Image copyright AFP
Image caption There were protests in Durban earlier this month

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says urgent action is needed to tackle gender-based violence in the country.

At an emergency sitting of parliament, Mr Ramaphosa said the figures for violence against women and children were similar to those of a country at war.

Some 2,700 women and 1,000 children were murdered by men last year, and at least 100 rapes were reported daily.

The spike in violence against women has ignited protests in many areas.

"There is a dark and heavy shadow across our land. Women and children are under siege," Mr Ramaphosa said, describing South Africa as one of "the most unsafe places in world to be a woman".

Mr Ramaphosa pledged $75m (£60m) for measures including public education, strengthening the criminal justice system, increasing sentences for perpetrators of sexual offences, and providing better care for victims.

The plan also includes measures to improve women's economic power.

Murders recorded by the police have been rising every year for the last decade, and sexual offences including rape have risen 4.6% this year.

Mr Ramaphosa also addressed the recent xenophobic attacks which gripped parts of Johannesburg a few days ago, and acknowledged that South Africa was facing a serious crisis of violence and intolerance.

He said a fact-finding mission led by two former African heads of state would investigate the causes of recent violent attacks in the country.

Earlier this week, South Africa apologised to Nigeria after Nigerian-owned shops and businesses were targeted by mobs. Twelve people died in the violence - 10 South Africans and two Zimbabweans.

Mr Ramaphosa's message to lawmakers comes a day after a dialogue on femicide and the killing of people with albinism in the country's Eastern Cape province.

Recent cases that have caused outrage in South Africa:

  • School pupil Janika Mallo, 14, is raped and dies after her head is apparently hit with a concrete block; no arrests have been made
  • Student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, is allegedly lured into a post office's mail room and raped and bludgeoned to death; a post office employee has been charged with murder
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Media captionThe South African women suffering violence