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South African leader drops UN visit as women protest attacks

JOHANNESBURG — 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.

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