Africa

#AmINext: Thousands protest the killing of women and children in South Africa

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After a deadly month for women and girls in South Africa, thousands have taken to the streets of Cape Town to demand a state of emergency be declared.

Dressed in black and carrying signs that ominously asked "am I next", thousands of people have taken to the streets of Cape Town to demand an end to violence against women and children.

The protesters are demanding South Africa's president declare a state of emergency after a spate of killings and sexual assaults over the past month rocked the country. The hashtag #AmINext has also gone viral in the wake of the increased violence.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government was working to bring an end to the "abuse of women and children" but stopped short of labelling it an emergency.

"I will make sure that those who are accused of perpetrating this violence against women ... are dealt with in the most severe manner," he said on Thursday.

"People like that do not belong here in South Africa and it is for this reason that the women of this country are rising up and calling on us as men to do something to bring an end to gender-based violence."

Mr Ramaphosa, who spoke to protesters who gathered outside the Parliament in Cape Town, announced the government would change the laws so that men who rape and kill women would be forced to remain in jail for life.

The protests come after 19-year-old Cape Town University student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, was allegedly raped and murdered by a post office employee when she went to collect a parcel. A few days later, boxing champion Leighandre Jegels, 25, was allegedly killed by her partner.

Earlier in the month, at least five more women and girls were killed, according to local media.

According to UN Women's Gender Inequality Index Rank, South Africa is among some of the more dangerous countries to be a woman.

Addressing the crowd on Thursday, one woman asked the government: "how many more women need to be stripped of their dignity, brutally abused, raped and murdered, before you shall listen?".

"All the women in our country deserve to be free. We have the right to walk freely in our streets. We have the right to feel safe. We have the right to be dignified. We have the right to live," she said.

According to local media, pamphlets were distributed at the protest encouraging men to attend a public meeting next week to help resolve the crisis.

“This is so that they can understand how they are contributing to this problem and can find a solution on how they will react and how they will change the current situation. They need to take immediate, concrete action on even a basic level," Riaan de Villiers told IOL News.

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