Gender based violence – the stats you don’t want to know
Gender Based Violence or GBV, why does it happen and why is it on the rise in South Africa? Some research from the SA Medical Research Council shows that a staggering 40% of men commit some form of violence against their partners. What’s even worse is that on average, three women are killed every day by their partners in this country.
How can this be happening and why don’t the authorities and government take more action? But first let’s look at what GBV involves.
Gender Based Violence can be
- Structural: within society
In most cases the violence is committed by men against women and in many instances the perpetrator is a husband, partner or family member. The beliefs of gender roles in society differ from place to place, but predominantly throughout the world and in South Africa there exists a Patriarchal structure. Men dominate and are seen as superior, and women cannot function within society as they should. This type of thinking in communities allows men to perform acts of violence without having to worry about consequences.
There also seems to be a lethargic response to this issue, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement only an increase in the violence. Even going to the police does not seem to bring about any action. It seems that one in every 20 women that have been killed already had a protection order out against their abuser. It has been found that the problem is; many of the women are not taken seriously when reporting their issue to the police.
On the other hand, in many instances the police cannot be blamed as the complainant drops the charges. The reason being, the women who made the complaint has reconciled with the suspect and offers no further aid to the police in the matter. Even though there have been laws put in place over the years to help stop Gender Based Violence, it seems to remain an accepted way of life in South Africa.
“A house where a woman is unsafe is not a home.” – Women, Liberia
1 in 5 means you know someone…even if you think you don’t
One in five women in South Africa has been a victim to violence, according to the Demographic and Health Survey in 2016. The most prominent form of GBV in South Africa seems to be Sexual Violence. This was gathered by taking information from police reports over the years from 2012 through to 2015. The information provided shows numbers that are consistent over the four years, meaning there has been no improvement in the matter.
This doesn’t take into account those who don’t report a crime. Sexual violence is associated with feelings of guilt and shame and having to tell someone like an authority figure, is extremely difficult. It is even worse when you find out that reported rapes are not likely to go to trial, in fact even less than 4% goes to trial. Fiona Nicholson, a gender rights activist, mentions that only 1 in 9 rape cases are actually reported.
How does one tackle such an ingrained issue in society? In the Survey done by ‘Stats SA Victims of crime for 2016 and 2017’, it shows that 68% of men agree that women should have the same rights as men. But what of the other 32%, who believe they have more rights over women? Maybe by understanding the social conditions in South Africa, such as substance abuse, unemployment and the deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes ingrained into our society, can we possibly make an improvement?
Women need to tell their stories and share their experiences, because women seldom speak out about the issue. Some may express themselves by portraying men in general as ‘#MenAreTrash’. This may alienate those 68% of men who may become offended by this statement. The only way to defeat Gender Violence is to fight it together. Men have a big role in the struggle against Gender Violence. Men can speak strongly to other men about their behaviour towards women, they can be a big help in breaking the stereotypes other men have about women.
There has to be some intervention on all levels if the problem of Gender Violence is to stop. It should come from a Government level to within the communities. Schools need to have awareness programmes and whole communities need to be involved. This is a long term commitment; it has taken years to develop and will take time to change. But if everybody can be made aware of the issue, the more we educate the South African People, the more we can start making changes to stop the violence!
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