CAPE TOWN, The South African Parliament has urged young people, particularly young men, to be at the forefront of the fight to eradicate crimes against women and children as the country celebrates this year's Youth Month at a time when it is confronted with increasing reports of violent and brutal attacks on women and children.

South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics indicates that there are about 52 murders and 143 sexual and related offences committed in South Africa daily, with a possibility of under-reporting of sexual offences. Of greater concern is that more than two thirds of victims of such crimes are children and youth aged 22 and younger.

The scenario should be deplored by every South African, the Parliament said in a statement here Wednesday, noting that the State regarded violence against women and children as a serious human rights matter and had over the years passed various pieces of legislation including the Violence Against Women Act, Children's Act, Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, Domestics Violence Act, as well as Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act.

More attention should be given to the execution of the Acts, educating and appropriately socializing the community to prevent the scourge facing the society today, said Parliament, which urged the youth to follow the example of the 1976 generation by continuing to be forces for positive change in all aspects of the lives of all South Africans.

This democracy, which the youth of 1976 sacrificed their lives for its realization, demands innovative young people to seek creative solutions to some of the socio-economic challenges faced by our country, Parliament said.

The youth of today, were also urged to continue to participate in democratic processes, hold those in power to account and to optimize the use of opportunities created by the democratic order, Parliament said.

It added that it continued to encourage all sectors and role players in the South African economy, including government and the private sector, to ensure an inclusive economy which ensures the participation of the majority of South Africans, 70 per cent of whom are young people.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of South Africans are young people, presented a unique opportunity to harness the youthful energy in transforming and growing the economy to eliminate inequality, poverty and unemployment, it noted.

Parliament said it had ensured that the needs of young people are mainstreamed in hundreds of pieces of transformative legislation passed since 1994, and is currently focusing on strengthening the efficacies of these pieces of legislation to ensure that the youth concretely experience the fruits of liberation.

Parliament will be engaging with a wide range of young people on issues affecting them through an array of activities during this Youth Month. This will include giving feedback on the issues previously raised by young people during similar engagements.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, said that with the the scourge of violence against women and children on the rise in the country, men should change.

This was the overriding message at the national men's dialogue against the murder of women and children and gender-based violence, which was hosted recently by the Department of Justice under the theme "Change starts with me". The dialogue looked into the development of a prevention strategy which will assist the government in dealing with gender-based violence.

Jeffery said research on the topic had shown that the issue of gender-based violence is very often social in nature. It pertains to social issues such as the early socialisation of young boys, while patriarchy and sexism also play an undeniable role.

Other factors which play a role are poverty and unemployment, which can be detrimental to the self-image of men, with poor self-image then leading men to take out their anger and frustration on women, said Jeffery.