Gender-based Violence is South Africa’s Second Pandemic

Gender-based Violence is South Africa’s Second Pandemic

Known nationwide as “the shadow pandemic,” this social outcry has many women and children displaced and at-risk in our country. 

Gender-based violence can arise in any of the following forms:

  • Child marriage, statutory rape, date rape and non-consensual sex.
  • Female genital mutilation and honour killings.
  • Human trafficking for illegal sex or slavery trade.
  • Intimate partner violence.
  • Physical punishment.
  • Sexual, emotional or psychological violence and harassment.
  • Public humiliation.

According to the SAPS Crime stats, “53 293 sexual offences were reported in 2019/2020 – an average of 146 per day. Of these, police recorded 42 289 rapes in 2019/20 – an average of 116 rapes each day.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed that there are plans underway to form effective social and behavioural change interventions.

“For example, the government has been collaborating with several civil society formations to sensitise taxi drivers and taxi marshals on gender awareness, gender norms, toxic masculinity and GBVF in an effort to change behaviour.

In another example, faith-based organisations have initiated a campaign to sensitise religious leaders on patriarchy, gender-based violence and the church. This includes a programme where leaders are trained to accompany survivors of gender-based violence from the time they report the incident until they are referred for further service. Faith activists are also trained to support women through the court process.

“Efforts are underway to support women’s economic empowerment especially during this period of COVID-19,” said President Ramaphosa.

Coming out of 16 days of activism against women and children at the end of 2020, it seems the scourge is still rampant as more and more women and children are reported missing and found dead on a daily basis in 2021. The epidemic is in a state of emergency – it is not just women and children who live in constant fear, but the South African community as a whole is afraid to speak up and report incidents near them – some as close as down the road or even next door.

Gender-based violence can only be beaten by collective efforts to report incidents as and when they happen, community efforts to change behaviour, as well as collective support for the many victims that are in danger.

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