Pretoria — The Department of Women says community leaders must engage with their communities to help prevent abuse and violence against women and children 365 days of the year.
"The recent media headlines of women and children abused, raped, murdered, burned and buried in attempts to hide traces, remind us of the vulnerability of women and girl children at the hands of men. There are many other women currently missing, who may never be found," the department said in a statement.
The department said gender-based violence remains one of the most critical challenges facing communities today. It said the recent disturbing developments sketch a grim reality that women continue to face in society.
While some of these cases have caught the media's attention, the department reminded citizens to always bear in mind that there are equally brutal cases of many other women suffering at the hands of men, whose pain and suffering remains unknown.
"It therefore requires that we all do our part in our homes, communities and various institutions, including places of work, to prevent violence. The trauma, the grief and emotional scars left by these experiences on family members and the community, take time to heal and sometimes they never heal.
"We are all weeping that many so young people should have a life so brief," the department said.
The department stressed the need to do more to intensify programmes that aim to prevent the abuse of women and children.
"We also need to do more to focus on boys and young men so that they become better members of our society tomorrow."
President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to unite against attacks and killing of women and children.
"We are outraged and seriously concerned about the reports of the abuse and killing of women and children in some parts of the country. We are especially extremely concerned that in most cases, these attacks occur at the hands of family members or in the case of women, their intimate partners.
"The nation must forge a united front with the law enforcement authorities, government and all sectors of society in fighting this appalling scourge and isolate these criminals in society but within the ambit of the law," said the President.
The President said violence against women had been declared a priority crime by government.
"Many perpetrators are being caught and are given long jail terms because of the cooperation of the public by coming forward with information," said President Zuma.
He urged victims of violence not to be intimidated and to report the perpetrators to the police to ensure that the law takes its course.