Gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide being labelled the country’s second pandemic is not enough, experts said after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Monday.
Ramaphosa added that even as the country was trying to find solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, it must never be
forgotten that GBV and femicide was still a huge problem.
Executive scientist and former unit director of the Gender and Health Unit of the South Africa Medical Research Council professor Rachel Jewkes said the president acknowledging GBV was the first step to tackling it.
“I think it’s excellent that the president of South Africa recognises the enormous impact of GBV and femicide on the lives of women in this country and political leadership of this type is absolutely crucial for us in tackling the scourge of GBV.
“It is incredibly important…that it is recognised and that society unites behind a programme of action.”
Jewkes added that alcohol played a role in violence perpetrated against women.
“It particularly is a part of the severe injuries to women, such as femicide…none of which is to let men of the hook [because] ultimately it is men who perpetrate the violence.
“But there is no doubt that alcohol is a very pernicious factor and reducing alcohol abuse is a very important part of the work we have to do to reduce the impact of gender-based violence and femicide against women.”
She said GBV required the unity of society to be tackled.
“It is work in progress. The task of reducing GBV and femicide is enormous and requires action from all sections of our society.
“It also requires considerable investment in resources and leadership … particular societal institutions that are impactful within communities including churches, for example.”
Research and project consultant at the University of Johannesburg Lisa Vetten said the president’s words about GBV being a second pandemic were not helpful, nor enough.
“What really confuses me is if you look closely at the figures released by the GBV command team, they don’t suggest a level of GBV being a second pandemic but to much more difficult problems,” said Vetten.
She wanted government to find solutions.
“I wish the president could have asked: what are the unique and specific problems that have been faced by services under the lockdown and what are weas government doing to rectify them?
“And even more importantly: what steps are we going to take to ensure the survival of services because they have been hit hard by the lockdown which has been extended?”
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