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More needs to be done to address gender-based violence, femicide scourge

A 25-year-old GBV victim who survived from being killed by her alleged rapist. Her body is full of scars. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

A 25-year-old GBV victim who survived from being killed by her alleged rapist. Her body is full of scars. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 29, 2021

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Pretoria - The South African Medical Association (SAMA), as well as local non-profit organisations, have continued to reiterate the dire need for more to be done throughout the year over and above the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

The organisation said while it fully supported the 16 Days of Activism, it still believed more had to be done throughout the year in order to combat the prevalence of the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in South Africa.

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The medical association said although the countrywide campaigns formed the key focus of the government’s “365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children” more intensive efforts were needed to adequately deal with the problem.

“We have a massive problem with GBVF in South Africa, with some reports saying up to 51% of women are victims of violence. All efforts to deal with this must be supported and applauded, but we must also be honest with ourselves and admit that what we are doing is not enough. There is a great need for more education, and for a stronger legal framework to deal with these crimes,” said SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.

Coetzee said improving the situation could be achieved by taking small but significant steps such as ensuring that the reporting of GBV crimes was made easier, and for police officers to be better trained to manage these cases.

She stressed the reason for this was that too often women faced secondary abuse by authorities who did not take their reports seriously, or did not properly investigate these cases. “We have heard time and again from women who say police officers treated them with disdain, or didn’t want to get involved in their cases. It’s not good enough, and something urgent is needed. If we, as a nation, are to turn the tide on GBV, we have to ensure everyone is treated equally when they report these crimes.”

Meanwhile, the Shout-It-Now non-profit organisation has called for the country to simply stop hiding behind the simple acronym of GBV.

“GBV is a neat little acronym that places Gender-Based Violence at a comfortable arm’s length away. We increasingly hear those three letters spoken, but they hide the ugly truth about this particular form of violence without saying its name,” said Cristianne Wendler, head of programmes at Shout-It-Now.

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“Every year for 16 Days of Activism, we, as a society highlight gender-based violence and renew calls to eradicate all its forms, but in the 23 years since South Africa joined the 16 Days of Activism campaign, what has really changed?

“To stop gender-based violence we need to stop hiding behind an acronym and stop accepting this as the norm so we can have real, honest and uncomfortable conversations that move us to take action.”

Wendler said while avoiding the GBV acronym won’t prevent the violence, it might just get society talking about the real issues and how we find solutions.

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Pretoria News

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