How to prevent gender based violence in South Africa

Gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide incidents in South Africa have frequently caused the country to come to a standstill in recent years.Uyinene Mrwetyana, a student at the University of Cape Town, was one of the most well-known individuals whose death in 2018 shocked the nation and led to rallies in 2019 demanding an end to violence against women. The United Nations formally recognized gender-based violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in, bodily, sexual, or psychological injury or suffering to women” in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993.

Women and girls are the majority of GBV survivors and victims, hence they are the subject of much of the attention in the fight against GBV. However, this does not imply that boys and men are not affected by GBV. GBV is pervasive throughout the world, partly as a result of institutional and ongoing gender inequality. This weakens women and girls, in particular, making it simple to disregard their fundamental human rights. Particularly when the victim is dependent on the abuser, abuse circumstances are perpetuated by a persistent lack of economic possibilities, resources, and access to justice or another redress against violence, which exacerbates and maintains a violent context.

According to WHO statistics, one in three women worldwide will suffer physical or sexual violence at the hands of a romantic partner. Although GBV can take many different forms throughout a woman’s life, the two most prevalent types are physical violence against intimate partners and sexual violence. Sex-selective abortion is just the beginning of violence against women; widows may also be compelled to commit suicide or be killed.

What is gender-based violence

One of the most prominent instances of human rights abuse in all nations, gender-based violence has its roots in gender inequity. Violence committed against a person because of their gender is referred to as gender-based violence. Gender-based violence affects both men and women, however, the majority of victims are women and children.

Things to consider if you’ve recently experienced GBV

  • Immediately seek assistance from the South African Police Service (SAPS) if you are in danger or are gravely injured. The police should be able to investigate the incident and, if necessary, help you get in touch with a qualified counselor and a medical expert.
  • As quickly as you can, get yourself out of harm’s way and into a secure location. If you are unable to do this on your own, think about contacting a trusted friend or relative who can help and support you.
  • To make sure you haven’t been gravely hurt and, if necessary, to do a sexual assault forensics examination, think about seeking out quick medical care from a hospital or clinic. If you want to report the case, hospitals and clinics can assist you with that as well.

Government Intervention

Since 1994, the government has implemented a wide range of initiatives and regulations in an effort to reduce GBV and ensure that everyone may live in and feel safe in society. However, there are a number of statutory laws that deal specifically with violence against women and children.

  • The Domestic Violence Act, the Criminal Law Amendment (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act and the Protection from Harassment Act, all offer notable protection for women and children.
  • The Children’s Amendment Act replaced the Children’s Act of 2005 which was enacted to, among other things, protect a child from maltreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation.
  • South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • The government has enacted Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which is aimed at effecting international agreements, which includes the Palermo Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol.

In order to help and direct magistrates in executing the Domestic Violence Act in a way that maintains both legal consistency and legal uniformity, there are additional Guidelines for the Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for the Magistrates. There is also a Sexual and Domestic Violence Protocol in effect for Magistrates’ Court employees. The country is home to Thuthuzela Care Centers, which are one-stop locations where rape victims may file a police report, get counseling, and get medical attention.

In addition to the legal requirements, the government has taken steps to ensure that GBV offenders face a harsh response from the police and the courts. Our courts are required to punish those who conduct violence and abuse harshly, and our police officers have been directed to prioritize reports of GBV.For instant

  • The Benoni Magistrate’s Court in May this year sentenced a man to 20 years imprisonment for repeatedly raping his granddaughter.
  • The Kuruman Regional Court in August sentenced a man to 20 years imprisonment for the murder of his ex-girlfriend.
  • The KwaDukuza Regional Court early this year sentenced a man to 45 years imprisonment for three counts of rape.
  • The Johannesburg High Court also sentenced a man to 32 life sentences and a further 170 years for crimes that include child rape, exploitation, sexual assault, and child pornography.

Laws aimed at bolstering efforts to stop gender-based violence have been signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa, with a victim-centered approach to addressing this dehumanizing pandemic.

The President has assented to:

(i) the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill;

(ii)  the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, and

(iii) the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.

The National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which was demanded at the November 2018 Presidential Summit against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, produced the legislation that was ultimately passed into law (GBVF).On September 18, 2019, President Ramaphosa reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to combating the scourge of GBVF and unveiled an emergency response plan, which calls for strengthening the relevant legal system. In order to increase South Africa’s response to gender-based violence, the National Assembly subsequently agreed to debate three Bills jointly.

President Ramaphosa said: “The enactment of legislation that protects victims of abuse and makes it more difficult for perpetrators to escape justice, is a major step forward in our efforts against this epidemic and in placing the rights and needs of victims at the center of our interventions. This legislation demonstrates democracy at work. Civil society’s demands from the gates of Parliament were heard and listened to, and gave rise to our nation reaching a point where the demands of citizens are now cast in our law. We must now continue the task of preventing abuse from occurring in the first place. This task entails men and boys checking their own values and behaviors that cause them to regard women and girls as targets of control and abuse. It also entails building a society based on advancing fundamental human rights and dealing severely with people who violate others.”

South African GBV statistic

In South Africa, it happens sickeningly frequently for women to die violent deaths, frequently at the hands of their loved ones. Nozipho Tshem, 72, was recently killed by her son in KwaNobuhle, Eastern Cape, using a hammer just hours before the son passed away.Lebogang Monene, a 36-year-old nurse from Gauteng, was reportedly shot and killed by her police partner earlier in February at the Tembisa Hospital parking lot. Kgomotso Sekhwela, a mother from Daveyton, was killed on September 13 when her car was set ablaze during an attack in front of her child’s daycare. She was 27 years old. The accused murderer is her boyfriend.

902 women were murdered from October to December 2021, with 232 of those killings being specifically related to domestic abuse, according to crime statistics. There were also 11 315 documented rape cases during this same period, or 123 occurrences on average every day. The number of sexual offenses decreased by 9%, however, because these crimes are frequently not recorded, statistics frequently do not accurately reflect reality.

Gorata Chengeta, a researcher on sexual assault, claims that gender-based violence does not happen in a vacuum and that it is important to study statistics with other pertinent data in order to comprehend both its origins and the factors that contribute to variations in the number of incidents.

“Due to the nature of such offenses, only a minority of them are reported to the police. We take statistics, whether they are positive or negative, with a grain of salt, knowing that they alone cannot explain the shifts in reported cases and that it is always important to understand the why behind any changes,” she says.

According to research published in 2021 by Statistics South Africa titled Crimes Against Women in South Africa, one in five women (21%) has suffered physical abuse at the hands of a romantic partner. A woman was slain every four hours in South Africa in 2016, which has a femicide rate nearly four times higher than the global average in 2015. At least half of them had personal partners who killed them.

Karabo Mokoena, 22, was slain by her lover in 2017 in his Sandton apartment, and it was claimed that he did it for the benefit of his company. Two days after student Zolile Khumalo, 21, was killed in her university house in Durban in May 2018, he was sentenced. Her killer was unable to comprehend that she had broken up with him. Tshegofatso Pule, 28, who was eight months pregnant, was discovered hanging from a tree in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, in June 2020. This is just another horrific incident.

The perpetrator of Tshegofatso Pule’s murder, Ntuthuko Shoba, was given a life sentence in prison in June of this year. Shoba received the maximum permitted sentence from judge Stuart Wilson, who ruled there was no valid reason to differ from that. He said that just because the court showed leniency to Muzikayise Malephane, the gentleman who was given a 20-year term for actually killing Pule, did not mean that Shoba was also deserving of it.

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