The economic impact of GBV in SA

The government has introduced laws to fight the scourge of gender-based violence. File Picture

The government has introduced laws to fight the scourge of gender-based violence. File Picture

Published Mar 28, 2024


Multiple crises have emerged in South Africa in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

General well-being is in severe danger from the immediate effects of the virus and the longer- term impact of hunger due to a growing economic crisis.

A number of gender-based violence (GBV) cases have increased due to social and economic fault lines in the society due to inequality and poverty which has exposed dangers faced by women.

Violence against women impacts negatively on the majority of South Africans, poor households continue to be affected by both violence and the pandemic. Patriarchal ideas still dominate south African man, women are viewed as being objects of man.

Gender-based violence has been institutionalised and normalised, those arrested for GBV are given light sentences that do not discourage them from engaging in gender base violence. Peace and security have been on the central agenda on SADC’s regional integration.

However, the continued existence of gender-based violence generally, in the SADC and South Africa continues to threaten human, security, peace and development. The increasing numbers of gender-based violence cases are a signal to the region on the need to enforce and facilitate the implementation and monitoring of the SADC protocol on gender and development.

The SADC protocol on gender and development which came into force in 2013 and revised in 2016 clearly identifies gender-based violence as an area of concern and has proposed several approaches which have been codified in the gender based- violence.

The chairperson of SADC council of ministers expressed concern on the high prevalence of gender-based violence in the region and called upon member states to make efforts to achieve gender equality and promote peace and security.

The economic growth can only be achieved if the region creates a favourable environment for both men and women to enjoy their full rights without infringement or oppression, with equal employment opportunities, businesses, access to financial institutions and representation in leadership.

To reduce gender-based violence and encourage the region’s long term development, the protocol emphasise on representation in participation of women in all socio-economic sphere in order to achieve gender parity in both politics and decision making laws.

Thus, women should be recognised and be allowed to participate fully in peacekeeping, peace-building, conflict resolution and reconstruction and humanitarian response. To achieve regional integration for women, SADC initiated the regional multi-dimensional women economic empowerment programme (RMD-WEEP, for 2020-2030) and the SADC industrialisation, women’s economic empowerment project was reviewed.

The aim was to increase women’s participation as entrepreneurs and business owners to add value in selected sectors within the regional value chains.

In South Africa the cost of violence demonstrates the impact that it has on resources particularly the affected groups which presents a negative impact on the private sector and businesses in general. Domestic violence and gender-based violence has affected women across different racial and economic groups. Studies have shown that gender-based violence has put a strain on public health which has created problems, nationally and regionally.

Violence against women has a potential to affect economic growth spanning generations to come. Gender-based violence can result in the increase on the cost of services, economic loss resulting on lost output, decrease productivity and lower earnings for companies. Based on the prevalence rate of between 20% and 30% of women who experienced gender-based violence within a given year in South Africa, it was estimated that the economic impact of violence is between at least R28.4 billion and R42 billion for the year 2012/2013, representing 9% and 1.3% of GDP respectively.

To fight the scourge and respond to gender-based violence, the government of South Africa has introduced various policies such as the gender-based violence bills the criminal and related bill (the amendment and criminal law) and the national strategic plan. The gender power dynamics has created an oppressive system for women thereby making them vulnerable to diseases such as HIV pandemic through unprotected sex and multiple concurrent partners made it difficult for women.

The impact of gender-based violence has been felt in different spheres of life with the church becoming silent and failing to condemn the scourge which has affected both women and children. With the conclusion of the gender-based violence bills the South African government seeks to put an end on the killing and violation of women by creating a safer and better society for all. Since independence, South African citizens have been concerned about gender-based violence and demanded better laws and policies to change their status quo. However, in light of the growing number of gender-based violence and femicide cases and the socio-economic impact, the South African government has taken measures to at least reduce or halt the scourge of gender-based violence by making sure that those who do evil especially against women, are sent to jail. Gender-based violence has raised nationwide anger which is targeted at the criminal justice system with citizens and survivors have questioned the exploitation of the legal system by the perpetrators.

* Phetha, is a Pos-tdoctoral Fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Institute for the Pan African Thought and Conservation (IPATC)

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL