10 things you need to know about Ramaphosa’s plan to fight gender-based violence

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

After facing stinging criticism for failing to lead the country as outrage grew over femicide and rape, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally addressed the nation on Thursday evening.

He said he was “appalled at the war being waged on our sisters, our mothers, our wives, our partners and our daughters” and he had heard “calls of the women of our country for action and for justice”.

Here are 10 key points mentioned by the president:

• Laws on domestic violence and sexual offences are being reviewed to prioritise the needs and interests of survivors.

• The national register of gender-based violence offenders will be “overhauled and modernised” and this National Register of Offenders will “list all the men convicted of acts of violence against women and children”. Ramaphosa also says he will ask Parliament to consider amending legislation to make the register public.

• The state should oppose bail and parole for perpetrators of rape and murder against women and children. Ramaphosa will also propose to Cabinet that all crimes against women and children should attract harsher minimum sentences.

• While 92 dedicated Sexual Offences Courts have been established since 2013, Ramaphosa says a further 11 will be opened this financial year “to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subject to further trauma”.

• Rehabilitation programmes in prisons will be increased and reconfigured to reduce the number of repeat offenders.

• Cases of gender-based violence that have been closed or that were not properly investigated will be reviewed.

• Ramaphosa recognised challenges such as the backlog of cases, delays in DNA testing and the availability of rape test kits in police stations, and says these issues will be addressed.

• Emergency teams at a provincial level – which bring together the police, social development, health, justice and education – will be strengthened to provide rapid and comprehensive responses.

• A national “multi-faceted plan” will be implemented to prevent gender-based violence through school programmes, community initiatives and workplace policies.

• Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will be asked to allocate additional funding to the national machinery to coordinate the campaign against gender-based violence.

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