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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK

World: Africa

Mbeki condemns violence against women

President Mbeki: Trying to combat frightening rape statistics

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has made a nationwide appeal for an end to violence against women.

The BBC's Jane Standley reports on the discrimination facing women
In a televised speech, marking national Women's Day, he said the liberation of South Africans would not be complete until women could live without fear in their homes and walk freely on any street.

The South African government is particularly concerned about the high level of rape and physical violence against women.

It is also campaigning to try to reduce HIV-related disease in women.

Nearly 50,000 women are raped every year in South Africa - one of the highest incidences of rape in the world.

Women in South Africa are nearly three times as likely to be raped as they are in the United States.

Gang rape 'fun'

In a recent survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling' - a South African term for recreational gang rape - was fun.

Mr Mbeki said his government would speed up the establishment of centres for abused women and children and increase Aids-related work to improve support for Aids victims and orphans.

Thousands of girls under the age of 18 are raped, often by men who believe having sex with a virgin will cure HIV infections.

National Women's Day marks the 1956 march by 20,000 women on government buildings in Pretoria to protest against apartheid pass laws.

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