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What is gender-based violence

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a deep-rooted problem in South Africa. Often, when we see the news, there is a report of a female who has gone missing or has died as a result of women's abuse.

Africa Check reported that between April and December 2016, the police recorded a total of 14,333 murders. Of this number, 1,713 were women. Based on this information, “at least half of these [murdered] women die at the hands of their intimate partners.”


What does gender-based violence mean?

GBV is a term used to describe violence directed at an individual based on their gender. This violence includes verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. Although both men and women experience GBV, the statistics in South Africa show that most of the victims are women and girls.

The phrases ‘violence against women’ and ‘gender-based violence’ are usually used interchangeably as the statistics commonly show that violence against females by men is more common. However, when we use the term ‘gender-based,’ it shines the light on the fact that this type of violence against women is typically based on the power inequalities between women and men.


What is the cause of gender-based violence?

There are several reasons why perpetrators resort to gender-based violence, and there is no easy way to answer this. Some of these occur during a marriage or a relationship where, due to prejudiced cultural beliefs, the man is seen as powerful and can control the woman. On the other hand, the woman is seen as meek and powerless, relying on her spouse to provide for her basic needs. Another reason that may influence GBV is if an individual grew up in an abusive home and violence seems ‘normal’ to them, thus resorting to violence as they communicate as an adult.

A report by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stipulates that growing up with an absent father, or with a father who does not display a positive role in the household can also cause an individual to be violent later in their life.


What are the forms of gender-based violence?

GBV is identified in many forms. Victims of gender-based violence can experience trauma in sexual, verbal, emotional or financial abuse by their perpetrators. This type of abuse usually occurs by someone known by the woman who is a family member or a boyfriend or spouse.


Physical violence

This is when a boyfriend or a spouse is violent towards the victim and is the most common form of violence in the country. This takes place in the form of sexual and physical abuse. Often, victims may not always know they are experiencing abuse. Find out what the signs of abuse are and get help if you can relate to any of the signs mentioned in the article.


Economic violence

This is where a dominant partner controls access to the assets and finances of their spouse. This often occurs when a man does not want his wife to work and makes an effort to manage or abuse the female partner’s money.


Emotional abuse

Emotional violence takes place in the form of verbal abuse. Name-calling, swearing in the form of disrespect, as well as intentionally belittling, embarrassing and humiliating the other person. These acts can affect an individual’s sense of self, self-confidence and self-esteem (Ludsin & Vetten 2005).


Domestic violence

This is violence carried out by a family member, partner or spouse and can include children. It can be in the form of threats of violence, battery or sexual harassment.


Sexual violence

The World Health Organisation defines sexual violence as any sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances or attempts to obtain a sexual act against a person’s will. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.


How we help

We donate R1 from every box of Joko tea which amounts to a minimum of R5 million every year to a non-profit organisation, POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse). This organisation is a powerful activist for women’s rights and provides shelter, legal advice and counselling for victims of abuse. Together we aim to help create safe spaces where victims of domestic violence can end the silence and end the violence.


If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, know that you are not alone. There is help out there. Contact the organisation nearest to you.