Challenges remain in efforts women's rights – Zuma

The Government has created an environment conducive to the empowerment of women and children, but more still needs to be done, said President Jacob Zuma at the closing ceremony of the 16 days of activism campaign.

“Prevailing attitudes regarding the place of women in society and the different notions of masculinity continue to present a barrier to the general pursuit of women’s rights and gender equality,” said Mr Zuma.

He was addressing the closing ceremony of the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign at the Free State University in Qwaqwa.

“While measures put by Government have generally impacted positively on the lives of children and women, we nevertheless acknowledge that a number of challenges still remain. “These exist both in implementation and in transforming societal attitudes and harmful practices that manifest themselves negatively against women and the girl child,” said Mr Zuma.

One of the worst manifestations of this was gender-based violence, particularly violence against women and girls, he said.

“The crime statistics released by the Police Department in September indicated an unfortunate increase in sexual offences, with much more cases of rape being enrolled in the magistrate courts across the country,” Mr Zuma said.

He said the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities had been asked to work with other Departments and civil society to ensure the campaign was sustained throughout the year through a 365-Days Campaign.

“This campaign has increased awareness of the detriments of violence on women, children and society as a whole. “It continues to seek to entrench the Bill of Rights and other pieces of legislation that guarantee the dignity of each person”. Mr Zuma said law enforcement agencies had been directed to put women and children high on their agenda of protection during the festive season. The criminal justice system also needed to strengthen its focus on the needs of survivors of abuse.

“Investigating officers need to engage closely with the survivor when investigating for purposes of bail applications because of its potential to cause severe distress to the survivor.”

Mr Zuma said Government and other sections of society had done all they could to inculcate a culture of respect, love and compassion for women and protection of our children. “But more still needs to be done,” he said

Source: ( 20091211)

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