25/11/2014. A man and a woman performing a drama that illustrate violence a abuse during the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence and Abuse at Viva Village in Mamelodi East. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Siyavuya Mzantsi

WITH South Africa recording the highest rate of women killed by their intimate partner in the world, “not enough has been done” to curb Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) – despite campaigns such as the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children.

This is according to research on IPV for the Alan J Fisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH), compiled by gender-based violence nursing expert Dr Kate Joyner of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) and Simone Honikman from UCT, in an effort to raise awareness about femicide.

The research shows that group education with men and boys, combined with community outreach, has been shown to be effective in reducing gender violence. The research was based on local and international literature and the authors’ empirical research in the clinical field.

The CPMH is an initiative which aims to address public mental health issues in low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. It presented summarised research findings and policy recommendations.

The research says there is very strong evidence that IPV exists in a vicious cycle with HIV, mental illness, poor reproductive health and poor childhood development. A total of 50 percent of the women are killed by someone they have an intimate relationship with, the research found.

The document, titled “A policy brief on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in South Africa: How to break the vicious cycle”, could be used to inform policy and standard operating procedures which were a requirement for sustained, quality implementation in practice, said Joyner. “To date, IPV has largely been an area of chronic neglect within the Health and Social Development arenas and therefore the necessary care is mostly absent from clinical practice.”

IPV was associated with a range of physical and mental health consequences for the mother, including pregnancy loss, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

South Africa’s mortality rate attributed to IPV is double that of the US. For the infant, there are increased risks associated with pre-term delivery and low birth weight, the research said. IPV often leads to alcohol and substance abuse, which in turn can lead to further partner violence.

The Health Department and Social Development Department were ideally placed to assume a leadership role in addressing the national crisis of IPV. “Numerous opportunities exist to integrate appropriate care within existing service delivery platforms and programmes such as the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster. Meaningful intersectoral collaborations could strengthen impact, prevent violence and promote community wellness.”