Gender based violence and how we can prevent it
ruuGender-based violence (GBV) is the most extreme expression of unequal gender relations in society. It is first and foremost a violation of human rights, and a global health issue that cuts across boundaries of economic wealth, culture, religion, age, and sexual orientation. While GBV is disproportionally affecting women and girls, it also affects men and boys. Wherever GBV occurs, it is a major obstacle for the achievement of gender justice, posing a serious
threat to democratic development and public health, and is a critical barrier to achieving sustainable development, economic growth and peace. If women, girls, men and boys are not safe, they cannot be full citizens nor fully participate in the development of their own society.
Gender equality is achieved when women and men, girls and boys, have equal rights, life prospects and opportunities, and the power to shape their own lives and contribute to society.
Gender-based violence is South Africa’s second pandemic, says President Cyril Ramaphosa
‘Over the past few weeks no fewer than 21 women and children have been murdered. Their killers thought they could silence them. But we will not forget them and we will speak for them where they cannot.’
Focusing on prevention to stop the violence
Ending violence against women and children will require all of us to take a stand. We need to change the mindset of men in our formations.
We need more of these conversations in schools,churches, workplaces and in community based organisations. Tackling gender-related stereotypes within communities should be a consistent and deliberate conversation. We need a gender neutral approach on how issues are discussed in these formations.
Men also have an important role to play in the fight against GBV. Through their joint actions, they must send a strong message that it is not acceptable to use power and abuse to subjugate and control women and children. Our attitudes towards relationships cannot
remain the same. When a woman says NO, the decision should be respected. Enough is enough.
Let us therefore ensure that we stand firm against violence and abuse of women in society by not turning a blind eye or assuming that it is someone else’s problem. We cannot afford to go into yet another year confronted with the same situation.
Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence. Given the devastating effect violence has on women, efforts have mainly focused on responses and services for survivors. However, the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.
Prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. Working with youth is a “best bet” for faster, sustained progress on preventing and eradicating gender-based violence. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage of life, it is a critical time when values and norms around gender equality are forged.
The Minister encouraged all men to sign the National Pledge which calls on South African men to become actively involved in ending all forms of violence.
“It is not only about being a good man, father, husband and co-worker. It goes beyond that to men not allowing violence in all its forms to take place.