Reframing interventions to end gender-based violence in South Africa

06 March 2014 | Opinion

On 25 February 2014 the FirstRand Foundation hosted a breakfast session focusing on interventions designed to end gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, as part of the Social Investment That Works series. The event was hosted by Sizwe Nxasana, chairperson of the FirstRand Foundation.

The event was dedicated to the subject of gender-based violence and followed on the Reframing Interventions to End Gender-Based Violence in South Africa research report, commissioned by the foundation.

The panel consisted of Lisa Vetten, research associate at the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research, Bafana Khumalo, co-founder of the Sonke Gender Justice Network, and Dr Lesley Ann Foster, founder of the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre.

Vetten, Khumalo and Foster discussed a variety of high-impact programmes and strategies focused on interventions to end GBV in South Africa, with the end goal of empowering the women of the country, as well as aiding industry by supplying information around funding initiatives and programmes.

The challenge

GBV is a human rights violation, and a form of discrimination against another person on the basis of gender. The predominance of GBV in South Africa reflects the high level of inequality between women and men in society.

The effects manifest at individual, family, community and at national level. Victims suffer both physical and psychological trauma, loss of opportunities and often are denied justice. The government bears increased state expenditure on health care and legal services for victims, prosecution and rehabilitation of perpetrators, while the business sector has to contend with reduced productivity through extended absenteeism from work by victims and perpetrators.

Despite the demonstrated serious consequences of GBV to society, efforts to prevent and mitigate this scourge remain underfunded, fragmented and often not based on in-depth analysis of underlying causes.

Furthermore, it has to be emphasised that GBV policy and legislation alone are inadequate to curb this societal menace.


Key highlights from the research include the following:

  • Domestic violence incidents suffered by women in 1998: one in four in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape
  • Domestic violence incidents suffered by women in the past year: one in 10 in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape
  • Homicide rate of women in 1999: six times the global average. Their partners perpetrated 50% of those deaths
  • Homicide rate of women in 2009 versus 1999: 5.6/100 000 versus 8.8/100 000
  • Domestic violence reports in Gauteng in 2010: 18.13%
  • Rape statistics in Gauteng in 2010: one in four women reported having been raped in the course of their lifetimes. One in 12 had been raped in 2009 alone.

The full report can be accessed here.