'Woman of colour' Meghan calls for end to sexual violence

BBC

23rd September, 2019 08:53:53 printer

'Woman of colour' Meghan calls for end to sexual violence

The Duchess of Sussex has said that "as a woman of colour" she supports work to fight sexual violence in South Africa.

She made the comments alongside the Duke of Sussex on their first official overseas tour with four-month-old son Archie.

On Monday the family arrived in Cape Town on a BA commercial flight to begin the 10-day tour of southern Africa.

On their first stop, Meghan praised a centre in Nyanga township that supports children and female empowerment.

Meghan told the crowds: "I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister.

"The work that's being done here is to keep women and children safer, which is needed now more than ever, this is an issue which has been at the forefront of people's minds here in South Africa and of course across the globe particularly over this past month.

"Please know that my husband and I have been closely following what you've been experiencing here, as best as we can from afar."

 

Meghan joins dancers

 

Nyanga is a deprived area with a high crime rate and the couple met staff at the Justice Desk - an NGO supported by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.

The project teaches children about their rights and how to deal with trauma, as well as offering self-defence classes to young people.

'Cheers, applause, song and dance'

The royal couple's arrival was marked with cheers, song and dance, but this visit is a serious one.

Sexual violence and violent crimes are the norm here in Nyanga township, with children and women often the most exposed in what is considered the murder capital of South Africa.

The duke and duchess were taken on a tour of a the NGO Justice Desk centre and talked in private to young women who've survived violence to learn more about what can be done to bring about change.

In impoverished communities such as this one across the country, local projects are often the only help people have to access justice and educational opportunities.

 

Prince Harry is presented with a drawing by a young boy

 

The couple wanted to visit Nyanga to learn more about the work the young people of this community are doing to try and better their lives, against such incredible and difficult odds.

Meghan's comments come amid a spike in violence against women in South Africa, where 2,700 women and 1,000 children were murdered by men last year, and at least 100 rapes were reported daily.

The spike in violence against women has ignited protests in many areas.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for urgent action and pledged £60m for measures including public education, strengthening the criminal justice system, increasing sentences for perpetrators of sexual offences and providing better care for victims.

Prince Harry told the crowds that "no man is born to cause harm to women".

"It's about redefining masculinity", he said. "It's about creating your own footprints for your children to follow in, so that you can make a positive change for the future."

Baby Archie did not accompany his parents on their township visit, but he was pictured wearing a bobble hat as the family arrived at Cape Town airport at approximately 10:00 BST.

In a post on the Sussex Royal Instagram account ahead of the tour, the duke said he could not wait to introduce his wife and son to South Africa.

Other highlights will include a visit to another township near Johannesburg, where Prince Harry and Meghan will learn about a project tackling rising unemployment.

The family will be in Africa until 2 October, and while the duchess and Archie are scheduled to spend the duration in South Africa, Prince Harry will also tour Angola, Malawi and Botswana before being reunited with his family in Johannesburg.

On Friday the duke is due to visit Angola where he will mark the legacy of his mother, the Princess of Wales, by paying homage to her 1997 campaign to outlaw landmines.

In Malawi he will pay tribute to a British soldier killed by an elephant during anti-poaching operations.

His visit will also focus on efforts to protect endangered animals.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "The Duke of Sussex's love for Africa is well known; he first visited the continent at the age of 13, and more than two decades later the people, culture, wildlife and resilient communities continue to inspire and motivate him every day."

Prince Harry's first trip to Africa came in the months after his mother's death in 1997, when the Prince of Wales took him to the continent "to get away from it all", he has said.

It is the duchess' first visit to South Africa.

Towards the end of the tour, the Sussexes will meet Graca Machel, the widow of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela. They will also have an audience with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife.

 


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