Women need financial independence: Xingwana
Financial dependence on men makes women vulnerable to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse, and murder, a Cabinet minister said on Monday.
Addressing the National Press Club in Pretoria, Women, Children, and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana said government was taking measures to turn the tide against women abuse.
"We are painfully aware that the financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners, and family members has increased women's vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse, and murder," she said.
"We remain convinced that empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment, and abuse."
She said her department, and those of land reform and rural development, wanted to promote women's access to land.
"This is because the challenges of rural development, food security, and land reform affect women disproportionately. Women have the least resources, including access to land."
Xingwana said there was a disturbing trend of hate crimes in South Africa. Recurrent attacks on gays and lesbians would now be addressed by government, she said.
"An assault on gays and lesbians is an assault on our democratic society. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and intersex communities must be fought on all fronts.
"This [the attacks] is indicative of a pervasive culture of intolerance and violence in our society which goes against the grain of our Constitution," she said.
Xingwana said government would launch the National Council Against Gender-based Violence on August 25.
"The council will facilitate the provision of help and response to victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
"It will also adopt comprehensive measures in addressing all forms of violence against women and children, as well as women with disabilities," said Xingwana.
The council would be chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, with a dedicated secretariat in Xingwana's department.
August is Women's Month in South Africa. Women's Day is on Thursday.
A number of events have been lined up across the country to honour the role played by women in society and to raise awareness about the abuse of women and children.
"A night vigil will be held in Pretoria on the eve of Women's Day. A living monument will be unveiled at the Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria in memory of the women of 1956," said Xingwana.
As part of the commemoration, women and dignitaries will march to the Union Buildings to relive the march held in 1956 by women protesting against proposed amendments to the pass laws, or the Urban Areas Act of 1950.
At the Union Buildings, President Jacob Zuma is expected to speak.