CAPE TOWN, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday vowed to end gender-based violence which he said has become "a crisis across our land."
This country's women and girls "live in fear," despite the best efforts to improve their lives and a series of progressive laws and policies to protect their rights, the president told a gathering in Vryburg, North West Province, to mark the National Women's Day.
According to a report issued by Statistics South Africa last year, 70,813 South African women experienced sexual offenses in 2016/2017, up from 31,665 in 2015/2016, a more than 100-percent increase.
A police crime statistics 2018 report showed that the country saw an increase of 11 percent in femicide cases in the previous two years.
Gender-based violence happens on the streets, in schools and universities, in churches and places of worship and, worst of all, in homes, Ramaphosa said.
"We must acknowledge here, as we have in the past, the stubborn persistence of patriarchy that leads men to think they are superior to their mothers, their wives and their daughters," the president said.
These attitudes, he said, are driving the abuse of women across society.
"As South Africans, we can no longer stand by as this evil sinks even deeper roots in our society," Ramaphosa said.
The government, together with the civil society, is moving to fight this scourge, he said.
A steering committee on gender-based violence will soon begin provincial consultations on mapping out a national strategic plan to address the issue, according to Ramaphosa.
In addition to the Declaration against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide adopted by the government and civil society last year, the Department of Justice is in the process of amending the National Policy Framework on the Management of Sexual Offences, he said.
The government is also reviewing the Domestic Violence Act to strengthen its provisions around domestic homicide and the enforcement of protection orders, said Ramaphosa.
He urged the society to join hands in turning South Africa into a country "where women are free from discrimination and subjugation, from violence and oppression, and are given the means to uplift themselves and their families."
Also on Friday, National Assembly (lower house of Parliament) Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces (upper house of Parliament) Chairperson Amos Masondo said in a joint statement that South Africa unfortunately continues to be plagued by the scourge of gender-based violence despite the end of apartheid 25 years ago.
"South Africa can never claim to be free if children and women continue to die at the hands of men and boys, most of whom share close relationships with them," the statement said.
Parliament will continue to use its powers enshrined in the Constitution to abolish practices and acts that discriminate against women, devalue their humanity and harm them, said the statement.
Through legislative interventions, Parliament will continue to protect women and girl children while holding the executive to account regarding the implementation of laws and policies promoting their interests, the statement said.
South Africa designates Aug. 9 as the National Women's Day to commemorate the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country's pass laws that required black South Africans to carry a pass that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization and manage migrant labor during the apartheid era.