The scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) is tainting the country’s rich heritage, said President Cyril Ramaphosa, once again denouncing what he has described as South Africa’s second pandemic.
“It is important that generations that come after us must fully grasp the importance of the freedom we have all achieved,” President Ramaphosa said in his Heritage Day speech on Thursday.
He told the nation that men, women and children of tomorrow must be proud to have inherited a democracy that affirms the worth and dignity of all citizens.
“So long as this country’s women and children live in fear from violence, we cannot regard ourselves as totally free.
“So long as women are being harassed, abused, beaten, raped and murdered, we cannot say we are a civilised society,” he stressed.
The President condemned GBV that has engulfed the country as reports of women and children dying in the hands of men continue to hog headlines.
“Abusing women is not our tradition, nor is it our custom. It is not, and will never be our heritage,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, he said, throughout the history of Africa, women have built and shaped societies, ruled kingdoms and highly respected and valued.
“We must put an end to this terrible shame that is tainting the image of our country,” he added.
“When you oppress a woman, you oppress a nation. When you beat a woman, you beat a nation.”
He has called on citizens to do away with practices that discriminate against women even through forms of representation in the media, advertising and in popular culture.
“The apartheid government denigrated our cultures and tried to make us ashamed of our cultures, our traditions, our languages and our very appearances,” he said.
“It is disheartening to see that in democratic South Africa, there are still crude stereotypes of black women being put on public display.”
He has encouraged South Africans to continuously check their acts of racism and prejudice.