Demonstrators hold up banners in Sandton, Johannesburg, Friday Sept. 13, 2019, as they protest against gender-based violence. The protesters are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency a day after the country's latest crime statistics were released. (AP Photo)

South African leader drops UN visit as women protest attacks

September 13, 2019 - 2:05 am

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's president has canceled a visit to the United Nations' annual gathering of world leaders to focus on unrest over gender-based violence and xenophobic attacks.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered in Johannesburg on Friday to demand stronger government action against rising levels of gender-based violence. Some members of the ruling African National Congress party are calling on the government to declare a state of emergency.

Police on Thursday released annual crime statistics saying sexual offenses and rape rose 4.6% and 3.9%, respectively, in the past year.

Women across the country have been sharing their experiences of violence and their fears on social media with the hashtag #AmINext.

It follows several days of protests in Cape Town last week after a spate of murders of young women and children.