Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
What is Gender-Based Violence?
Gender-based violence (GBV) takes on many forms and can occur throughout a person’s life cycle. Types of gender-based violence can include the murder of babies on account of their sex; child sexual abuse; sex trafficking and forced labour; sexual coercion and abuse; neglect; domestic violence; elder abuse; harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage, violence against those who are deemed to bring dishonour to the family or culture, and female genital mutilation/cutting.
Women and girls are the most at risk and most affected by gender-based violence – something all too well known within the South African context. Consequently, the terms “violence against women” and “gender-based violence” are often used interchangeably. However, boys and men can also experience gender-based violence, as can sexual and gender minorities. Regardless of the target, gender-based violence is characterized by the use and abuse of physical, emotional, or financial power and control. Something a real man is willing to fight against, for the sake of his mother, his sister, and his daughter.
GBV, how bad is it and what causes it?
Women and girls are the most at risk and most affected by gender-based violence – something all too well known within the South African context. Consequently, the terms “violence against women” and “gender-based violence” are often used interchangeably. However, boys and men can also experience gender-based violence, as can sexual and gender minorities. Regardless of the target, gender-based violence is characterised by the use and abuse of physical, emotional, or financial power and control. According to the 2012 South African Police Service statistics, 64, 514 sexual offences occurred between April 2011 and March 2012, meaning a staggering 176 cases per day.
Independent research carried out in Gauteng by Gender Links showed that 51% of partnered women disclosed they had had been a victim of abuse at the hands of an intimate partner (33.1% experienced physical abuse and 18.8% experienced sexual abuse). Conversely, the research also showed that 78% of ever-partnered men disclosed having ever perpetrated emotional, economic, physical or sexual abuse with an intimate partner. Furthermore, the study also showed that 37.4% of men had ever raped a woman who was a stranger, acquaintance, family member or intimate partner.
Throughout the world, boys and men are largely the perpetrators of sexual violence, and girls and women are the victims. It is increasingly understood that men’s use of violence is generally a learned behaviour, rooted in the ways that boys and men are socialized. There are various causes behind acts of gender-based violence; research into the subject has yielded some insight into a few of these causes.
Attitudes about gender
Unequal gender norms within a society can compromise the quality of life women have access to, as well as facilitate acts of violence. Research in Tanzania conducted by the Together for Girls partnership showed that 60% of females and 50% of males aged 13 to 24 believed it was acceptable for a husband to beat his wife under certain circumstances.
Relationship power imbalances
When a partner within a relationship is deemed to possess greater financial, intellectual or social capital (money, knowledge, friends) than the other, violence can often be an outcome. A study conducted in India showed that women who were unemployed at the beginning of the study but had begun employment by the next visit had an 80 percent higher chance of violence at home, as compared to women who maintained their unemployment status.
Relationships with older men
Emerging evidence from South Africa suggests that young women (16-23 years old) who have partners that are three or more years older than them are 1.5 times more likely to experience violence and 1.6 times more likely to be HIV-positive than women of the same age whose partners are in their peer group (UNAIDS and WHO). Women who engage in relationships with older men often rely on the man for economic support, which increases the power inequity in a relationship.
Influence of drugs and alcohol
The consumption of substances that can diminish self-control and exacerbate aggression – such as alcohol, are well documented catalysts for acts of gender-based violence.