Poverty, culture, patriarchy main drivers of gender-based violence

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have exacerbated domestic violence cases. Picture: Pexels

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have exacerbated domestic violence cases. Picture: Pexels

Published Sep 10, 2021



Pretoria - Poverty, culture and patriarchy are some of the main drivers of gender-based violence in South Africa.

This emerged from a seminar yesterday on gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide in South Africa, hosted by Mamas Alliance, a Dutch-based organisation that deals with social issues.

Speakers included GBV Monitor SA founder Omogolo Taunyane-Mnguni, Mamas Alliance SA representative Sylvia Luneta, and Ali Channon, of Tshikululu Social Investments.

Luneta said in most cases women in South Africa had no say when it came to issues about their bodies, and would tolerate various forms of abuse and do anything to survive because they were poor and dependent on the abuser.

That the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns exacerbated domestic violence cases was another sore point, she said.

In February this year, non-governmental organisation Amnesty International found that GBV increased in at least five southern African countries during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The organisation’s study found that South Africa was among countries that stood out for support services for women and girls subjected to violence and abuse not being taken into consideration in the design of the measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

Taunyane-Mnguni, who founded her non-profit organisation out of frustration with how GBV was reported in the media, said the problem was rampant in South Africa because men knew they could get away with whatever crime they committed against women.

“Men feel that they are entitled to women and children’s bodies. They know that the criminal justice system will fail the victims or does not work in their favour.

“Patriarchal dynamics also play a huge role in enabling gender-based violence in our country, especially in rural areas where women and children do not have a say in issues concerning them, all in the name of culture,” she said.

Taunyane-Mnguni added that the issue was that mostly women (who are victims and not perpetrators) were the ones being addressed about the problem instead of men.

“Men need to hold each other accountable, they need to have conversations about the impact their actions have on young girls and women’s lives.”

Barbara Kenyon, of Grip SA, said that the country’s courts were overwhelmed, and cases did not receive enough attention.

“The government can’t do it alone, this therefore calls for everyone to play a role in addressing and fighting gender-based violence.

“The criminal justice system is also failing victims, many do not even bother with opening cases, and some withdraw them because they know they won’t get justice.”

Channon said that there was a need for a rapid response, especially now with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

“The private sector should come on board and fund non-profit organisations who are fighting GBV.

“The funding should be sustainable and not go according to which story is making headlines at that particular time.

“This would mean the funding is there this year and not there next year, and that is not what we need.”

Pretoria News