By Siviwe Zibi
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday called for a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces to tackle the issue of gender-based violence and femicide.
“I have called this joint sitting because there is a dark and heavy shadow across our land the women and children are under siege. South Africa is one of the most unsafe places for women”.
Ramaphosa said the reality that we are confronting is a serious crisis of violence and intolerance. We have to act now before anger, hopelessness engulfs our country. We are confronted with this bad situation, the women of our country are demanding that we should have a state of emergency which would perhaps enable us to deal with this scourge of gender-based violence. The people of this country now want action. Women of this country should not have to protect themselves from men, they should feel safe and secure around men. They have the right to feel safe and violence against women is not a problem of women, it is a problem of men.
The government will make substantial funding available for a comprehensive funding package for interventions to make a lasting difference and they have an emergency action plan which will be implemented over the next months. The plan will strengthen existing measures and introduces new interventions. The state is going to launch a mass media campaigns that will focus on men groups, youth at risks and offenders in prisons. As part of the campaign, they will provide gender sensitivity training to law enforcement officials, prosecutors & magistrates. Cabinet resolved to direct R1.1 bn in additional funding in this financial year to the comprehensive response to gender-based- violence.
“ For those who violate women, what they do actually ends the normal lives of the victims. A young woman who is raped becomes completely disoriented once the rape has taken place. We need to be harsher against the perpetrators. The government will continue to prioritise women when it comes to unemployment, training, and opportunities. The rights of women and must be protected. The recent public violence exposed the levels of intolerance in our country and the frustrations about the social and economic conditions” he said sincerely.