Use resources better to combat gender-based violence - lecturer
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Pretoria - Combating gender-based violence (GBV) does not require the allocation of more funds, but rather ensuring that resources that are available are sufficiently directed at deprogramming South Africans to prevent them from committing acts of violence against women and girls.
This is according to Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, a senior lecturer in managerial economics and statistics at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, who said the question was not whether the country had sufficient resources to deal with violence against women and children, but whether those resources were being sufficiently directed at “deprogramming South Africans from violence”.
Moleko said that while budget allocations to the criminal justice system had increased annually, there was still not enough of an associated drop in violent crime.
She said this could be evidenced by the crime statistics for the first quarter of 2021 released by the police in August, that indicated that contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences including rape, and all categories of assault, had increased by more than 60% compared to the same period in 2020.
Moleko said the unusually low figures in April-June 2020 could be attributed to an overall drop in crime during the hard lockdown, making the increase of 60.6% this year particularly dramatic.
She added, however, that the reality was that contact crimes in the first quarter had been on an upward trajectory over the past five years, from 140 281 cases in 2017 to 145 120 this year, which was an increase of 3.5% over five years.
“Violence against women and children has a price tag. The R157 billion allocated in 2020 to policing, social services for victims of crime, justice and correctional services is a massive opportunity lost.
“Those resources could be directed towards nation-building initiatives such as education, development of small businesses and entrepreneurs, empowerment and economic development.
“South Africa is a very angry society, and unless there is healing in the nation, the behaviour of violence is repeated and becomes inter-generational. The cycle of abuse must be broken from the side of perpetrators because by healing the perpetrators we will ultimately have fewer victims."
Moleko said to achieve this, the country had to start by addressing childhood abuse and trauma in society, as various studies had shown that more than 50% of men who admitted to committing violence against women were themselves abused and predisposed to experiencing trauma.
Furthermore, she stressed that greater awareness of and attention on dealing with mental health issues affecting men was equally important, as perpetrators of GBV had issues such as depression, childhood trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse.
With the country spending less than 10% of the R157bn allocated to the criminal justice system on violence-prevention, greater investment in breaking the cycle of violence was still needed to reduce the economic impact of GBV.
In doing so, resources could then be freed up and redirected to education and economic development to build a more equitable and inclusive society.