Gender-based violence a crisis in SA - Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle has met with representatives of NGOs who spoke about how rife gender-based violence was in South Africa.

FILE: The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited Action Aid on 1 October 2019. The organisation works against poverty and injustice, to discuss gender-based violence and its impact in South Africa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited the offices of ActionAid, an organisation working against poverty and justice, to discuss gender-based violence in South Africa with representatives from different NGOs.

Markle was immediately greeted with song when she entered the offices.

GALLERY: Meghan Markle's JHB visit in 11 pictures

Three girls, Luyanda (8), Kadisha (5) and Kaliso (13), welcomed her and Markle embraced them with open arms.

The young girls gifted her with a bouquet of flowers and handwritten letters.

Markle then attended a roundtable discussion with ActionAid’s director Nondumiso Nsibande, Rachel Jewkes of the SA Medical Research Council, Teddy Bear clinic’s Elizabeth Steenkamp and Bafana Khumalo of Sonke Gender Justice.

While Markle didn’t say much, she listened attentively and acknowledged that gender-based violence was a crisis in South Africa.

The NGOs spoke about the different programmes they had to address gender-based violence. This included looking into toxic masculinity and challenging men by holding them accountable.

Khumalo spoke about how cultural practices played a role in the way women were treated by men in South Africa, referring to the strength of patriarchy in local culture.

“Men do what they want to do with women,” he said.

WATCH: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: When a woman is empowered, it changes everything

The NGOs spoke about how rife gender-based violence was in South Africa, especially its persistence in schools.

He also spoke about how the South African justice system allowed for perpetrators to get away with gender-based violence because even when reported and escalated, many of the cases took years to conclude.

Nsimande said ActionAid has had conversations at schools and found that many of the girls did not feel safe at school.

Khumalo added that despite all the challenges, South Africa was on the right track.

In the past, gender-based violence wasn’t really talked about, but through programmes from these NGOs, there’s more awareness which helped in breaking the cycle of gender-based violence.

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is expected to return to South Africa from Malawi on Wednesday for the final leg of the royal tour in southern Africa when the royal couple will meet with Graca Machel and President Cyril Ramaphosa.