How gen­der-based vi­o­lence AF­FECTS THE ECON­OMY

South Africa loses bil­lions to gen­der-based vi­o­lence a year

Move! - - ISSUE - By Pheto Ra­makobya

GEN­DER-BASED vi­o­lence (GBV), and in par­tic­u­lar vi­o­lence against women, is one of the most ex­pen­sive pub­lic health prob­lems glob­ally and has a fun­da­men­tal im­pact on eco­nomic growth.


More than 30 stud­ies, mostly from de­vel­oped coun­tries, have been con­ducted to fo­cus largely on the costs of ser­vices, eco­nomic losses, decreased pro­duc­tiv­ity and lower earn­ings re­sult­ing from gen­der-based vi­o­lence. Econ­o­mist and au­thor, Audra J Bowlus, states in one of her books called Vi­o­lence Against Women and The Law that, “Aware­ness of the costs of gen­der-based vi­o­lence to so­ci­ety strength­ens ar­gu­ments for the in­ter­ven­tion of govern­ment, so­cial in­sti­tu­tions and busi­nesses. The costs af­fect ev­ery­one and gen­der-based vi­o­lence is a so­ci­etal is­sue.”


Sim­i­lar to the use of seat belts, road safety, health risk man­age­ment or vac­ci­na­tions, gen­der-based vi­o­lence is an is­sue for which it is ap­pro­pri­ate for so­ci­ety to in­ter­vene. Busi­nesses are also af­fected by the con­se­quences of gen­der-based vi­o­lence through lost time and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Demon­strat­ing these costs will help in­flu­ence busi­nesses re­spond to is­sues of abuse in their work­place and their work­force.

Gen­der-based vi­o­lence af­fects peo­ple’s gen­eral well-be­ing, in­clud­ing their health and pro­duc­tiv­ity.


KPMG con­ducted a study that re­vealed that up to a quar­ter of women ex­pe­ri­ence gen­der-based vi­o­lence within any given year.

Stud­ies es­ti­mate that the eco­nomic im­pact of that vi­o­lence stood at be­tween R28.4 bil­lion and R42.4 bil­lion as of 2013.

The es­ti­mates should be con­sid­ered as a par­tial or a min­i­mum es­ti­mate of the true costs.

Audra ex­plains that gov­ern­ments also pro­vide ser­vices like health care, preven­tion, shel­ters, po­lice, ju­di­cial and oth­ers, to vic­tims, their chil­dren and their per­pe­tra­tors.


In re­al­ity, it may seem hard to be­lieve that gen­der-based vi­o­lence will come to an end, but Audra thinks with a bit more em­pha­sis from the govern­ment and the pub­lic, it can be min­imised.

“Gen­er­ally, the govern­ment can help by tak­ing a stand that gen­der-based vi­o­lence is not go­ing to be tol­er­ated, chang­ing and en­forc­ing laws, if nec­es­sary, and pro­vid­ing preven­tion ser­vices for both vic­tims and po­ten­tial per­pe­tra­tors,” says Audra. “So­ci­ety can help by also con­tribut­ing to the change in norms by no longer ac­cept­ing vi­o­lence as okay or as a pri­vate mat­ter. So­ci­ety needs to speak up and re­port such in­ci­dents.”

Gen­der-based vi­o­lence is an ex­pres­sion of power and in­equal­i­ties that ex­ist

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