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Slogans alone will not change the fate of women; a change in attitude is what is needed

Slogans and campaigns alone will not change the fate of women in South Africa. A drastic change in our attitude towards women is what is needed. Women themselves must also make sure their voices are heard in the struggle. We can learn many lessons from the past in this regard.

Susanna Smith and other Voortrekker women's call to trek barefoot over the Drakensberg so as not to be subjected to British rule is legendary. Similarly, women showed that they can stand up for themselves and make their voices heard when they marched in great numbers to the Union Buildings in 1915 (6 000), 1940 (10 000) and 1956 (20 000).

The time has come for the government to step up and offer women the support they deserve. Measures must be implemented to encourage the reporting of gender violence and protect victims. Additionally, policing and prosecution in cases of violence against women and children must be prioritised.

Is seems that at present, both the incidence and seriousness of gender violence are on the rise even though more and more is being done to raise awareness. In South Africa, on average three women die at the hand of their spouse or ex-partner every single day. According to the South African Council for Medical Research, that is the highest figure in the world. What is equally shocking is that 2,5% of women believe that men have the right to abuse them.

According to the Minister of Police, more than 124 000 cases of rape were reported over the last three years. This figure becomes all the more shocking when it is taken into account that only 2% of all incidences of rape are reported. That means that there are actually nearly 2 million incidences of rape per year.

According to the World Health Organisation, 21 women are murdered in South Africa every week – that is nearly five times the world average.

The following are just a few of the incidences that made the news recently:

• The boxing champion, Baby Lee Jegels, is shot and killed by her friend;

• It has been 100 days since Amahle Thabethe (8) went missing;

• Lynette Volschenk (32) is murdered and dismembered in a flat in Bellville;

• Meghan Cremer was murdered after being abducted from the Phillippi riding school;

• Six-year-old Amy-Leigh de Jager was kidnapped and a ransom of R2 million was demanded. She has since been found;

• A woman from Walmer in Port Elizabeth, Sisanda Fani (30), was murdered;

• A youth leader of a church in Matroosfontein (Jesse Hess, 19) and her grandfather (85) were murdered in their flat in Parow;

• A girl (14) raped and murdered in her grandmother's backyard;

• Murdered Courtney Pieter's sister was found after she had gone missing.

Today, more than ever before, women must join hands and must pay attention to the lessons that can be learnt from the past, namely to take the lead in the struggle. The FF Plus will join forces with women in this struggle and will hold the government accountable so as to ensure that women's rights are properly protected.

Contact number: 082 490 6663

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