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What is gender-based violence

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a term used to describe violence directed at an individual based on their gender. This violence includes verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, psychological and economic abuse. Although both men and women experience GBV, most of the violence is inflicted on women and girls and perpetrated by men.

The phrases ‘violence against women’ and ‘gender-based violence’ are often used interchangeably as the statistics show that violent acts are primarily committed against women or girls, as well as against members of the LGBTQ community. However, using the term ‘gender-based’ reflects the unequal power relationships between the genders which are entrenched in all societies, and which allow for violence against women to become the norm. GBV reinforces gender inequality. GBV remains a deep-rooted problem in South Africa. According to the SAPS crime statistics report  for the period 2019/2020, more than 146 sexual offences were committed every day, equalling a total of 53 293 sexual offences, the majority being rape. These are only the reported cases. The Medical Research Council of South Africa has estimated that only 2% of rapes in South Africa are reported. The same report stated that 2 695 women were murdered during this period, which means that in South Africa, a woman is murdered every three hours. 

Femicide - the intentional killing of a female because of her gender, often by partners or ex-partners - is five times higher in South Africa than the global average.

Added to that 51% of women in South Africa say they’ve experienced GBV according to Africa Health Organisation, with 76% of men saying they’ve perpetrated GBV at some stage in their lives.


What are the causes of gender-based violence?

There are several reasons why perpetrators resort to gender-based violence, and there is no easy way to answer this. GBV may occur in societies where discriminatory social, cultural, or religious laws, norms, beliefs and practices give men power and control over women.  Communities where general violence is the norm, or where violent behaviour is seen as a sign of masculinity, will reflect higher incidences of GBV.

On an individual level, growing up in a home where violence is the norm, or where there is no male role model, or a negative male role model may influence later behaviour. 

Research has shown that poverty and unemployment are factors that impact rates of violence against women, as are alcohol and drug abuse.


What are the forms of gender-based violence?

GBV includes sexual harassment, rape, or sexual violence; stalking; physical, emotional, and economic abuse; and child abuse. Each form of violence is not exclusive - various incidences of GBV can occur at the same time and reinforce each other.

Intimate partner abuse

The most widespread form of GBV is “intimate partner abuse”.  It includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by a partner or ex-partner. Threats, insults, humiliation and intimidation are examples of emotional or psychological GBV. This abuse also includes controlling behaviour, like controlling what a woman wears, says, does or who she sees, isolating a partner from her friends and family, restricting access to finances or other resources, and restricting or monitoring her movements.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence includes intimate partner violence, but also incorporates any form of violence against other family members, specifically children and the elderly.

Physical violence

This is any act that attempts, causes, or results in physical harm.  Physical violence is a form of GBV when it is used to reflect differences of social power or threatens the freedom of the victim. LGBTQ people or those identified as breaking gender “norms” are often victims of physical violence.

Economic violence

This is any act where a dominant partner controls access to the assets and finances of their partner or spouse. It includes restricting access to financial resources, education, or the workplace, or maintaining control by not complying with economic obligations like child support.

Psychological and emotional violence

This is any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. It can include verbal assaults and bullying, humiliation, degradation, and ridicule as well as dominance, control, and isolation or even coercion. This form of abuse is often followed or accompanied by physical abuse.

 Sexual violence

Any unwanted sexual act or attempt to engage in an unwanted sexual act, unwanted sexual comment, or any form of sexual abuse that occurs without the other person’s consent.

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.