South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa calls for action against "rape violence"

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the launch of the National African National Congress poster in Durban on 12 January 2019Author's image
Reuters

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Cyril Ramaphosa urged all men in the stadium to resist violence against women

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on men to unite against rape and sexual assault in the country, calling it a "national crisis".

Women were raped and killed on a continuous basis and the time had come to end gender violence, he said.

He made his passionate request as he launched an electoral manifesto for the African National Congress.

Approximately 40,000 rapes are reported every year, even if they are thought to be only a fraction of the real total.

The president asked the men in the Durban stadium, where tens of thousands of supporters attended his speech, to show their condemnation.

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"We have made tremendous progress in improving the position of women in society … However, gender violence is a national crisis that we are determined to end, so that all South African women and girls can live in peace, security and dignity, "he said.

"Women's emancipation requires a change in attitudes and in the material conditions that perpetuate the oppression and marginalization of women".

He outlined a series of measures to achieve this goal, including harsher sentences for perpetrators, and "more qualified" police and judicial authorities "to improve the capacity to investigate and prosecute all crimes".

"It is important that children learn from an early age to respect each other as equals and not to resort to violence in situations of stress and conflict".

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Average captionDiepsloot township in South Africa: "My neighbor is a rapist"

Overall, his speech sought to mark a clear break with a decade of drift and misgovernment under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, reports BBC correspondent Andrew Andrew Harding.

Ramaphosa has promised competence and honesty – barely tackling populist issues like land reform – and instead focusing on ways to tackle rural poverty and the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, our correspondent adds.

The South African police recorded 40,035 rapes in the 12 months prior to March 31, 2018, an average of 110 every day, the control organization of the facts Africa Check reported last year.

This represented a slight increase compared to the previous year, which saw 39,828 registered rapes.

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