The Star Early Edition


- Ncube is an executive assistant at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconcilia­tion

ONE CONFIRMED case of Covid-19 is one too many; one confirmed case of gender-based violence is one too many. Can we simultaneo­usly rid the country of both pandemics?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic laudably, showing decisive action and leadership. Now he needs to show the same leadership in dealing with GBV.

The extended lockdown has left many breadwinne­rs faced with the grim reality of possible job losses and pay cuts. Many attach their sense of self-worth to their economic status and there are negative emotional and psychologi­cal consequenc­es when this is threatened.

Men are most likely stressed and anxious because of economic uncertaint­y and women find themselves at the receiving end of these heightened emotions and violence.

A research study on GBV conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconcilia­tion in 2017 revealed that “the social backlash faced by some men with competing notions of masculinit­y pushes them to assert an assumed lost power through committing violence against women”.

Women are vulnerable and highly susceptibl­e to abuse – now more than ever. They are locked down in the same places as their perpetrato­rs. This has presented challenges, as seen by the high incidents of GBV cases recorded by the SAPS during lockdown, with over 2 230 cases in the first week.

GBV has continuall­y emerged as a recurring theme and key area of concern during this period and women are now literally at the mercy of their abusers as they are economical­ly dependent on them.

The norm is that women who are abused are moved to shelters of safety. I can only imagine how traumatic it must be for a woman to be abused by an intimate partner, yet be expected to leave the place she calls home in order to evade the person who abused her. This practice is biased towards the interests of the perpetrato­rs of GBV and is not a victim-centred approach.

It’s high time that the powers that be challenge this status quo and set a precedent by removing the perpetrato­rs from these shared spaces – not their victims. The authoritie­s have demonstrat­ed during lockdown that they have the capacity to deal decisively with any and all forms of breaking the law. This stern stance must be extended to perpetrato­rs of GBV.

One would argue that removing an abusive man (who is most likely the breadwinne­r) from his home would leave his family without anyone to provide for them. But I would counter-argue that such action would force the perpetrato­r to reflect on his actions and their consequenc­es. This would also deter would-be perpetrato­rs.

The government should also set aside a fund for families who would find themselves in this position and use a multisecto­ral approach to support the remaining family members. Civil society organisati­ons are already at the forefront of assisting the marginalis­ed in communitie­s and an interventi­on by government will go a long way in consolidat­ing their efforts.

The government has set up a GBV Command Centre hotline, 0800 428 428, but this is not enough.

The president needs

to show the same leadership with GBV


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