Gender-based violence (GBV) is, without a doubt, one of the most common human rights violations that is present in the world. It does not see race, social class or nationality. GBV creates further gender inequality, and both men and women can experience it. It is essential to prevent the occurrence of GBV as it has dire consequences.
What Is GBV?
GBV is a human rights violation that is rooted in gender inequality & exists in any society. The victims of GBV are targeted because of their gender. Though the victims are both men and women, girls and women are mostly affected. In South Africa, 76% of men have at some stage perpetrated GBV, while 51% of women have experienced some form of GBV. In another study, it was found that one in five women have experienced violence from partners at some stage of their life.
South Africa has the highest femicide rates globally, as its femicide rates are five times higher than the global average. It is important to note that the GBV figures might be higher than those reported as there are incidents that are never reported. Unreported incidents might be because they are not considered too violent. Those that are indeed violent may be normalised due to gender discrimination daily, especially for LGBTQ communities and women. Another factor leading to unreported GBV incidents is the privilege that the perpetrator has and the victims fearing the consequences they will face once reporting their experiences.
Types Of GBV
GBV manifests in many different ways. They may reinforce each other as they can take place at the same time. Although women are the greatest victims of GBV, some factors can contribute to facing different forms of GBV such as race, age, social class, sexuality, religion and disability. Typically, the types of GBV include;
- Physically Violence
Physical violence consists of acts of unlawful physical force that lead to physical harm. This physical harm includes assault, whether major or minor, spouse beating or domestic violence and manslaughter.
- Economic Violence
This form of domestic violence consists of behaviour that creates economic harm to the individual that is being abused. Examples of economic violence are taking away access to financial resources, property damage, revoking access to education or the labour market and not meeting economic responsibilities such as spousal support.
- Psychological Violence
Psychological violence is any act that is intended to invoke psychological harm to the victim. Typically, psychological violence includes verbal abuse or insults, defamation and coercion.
- Sexual Violence
Sexual acts that are performed without explicit consent from an individual are considered sexual violence. These acts include rape, attempted rape, marital rape, exploitation, sexual abuse and forced prostitution.
- Harmful Traditional Practices
Harmful traditional practices can include physical, psychological and sexual violence. These practices can also include early or forced marriage, denial of education because of gender role expectations and honour killings.
Consequences Of GBV
The different types of GBV all have severe and potentially life-threatening consequences, which include;
The health consequences of GBV can have fatal and non–fatal consequences including suicide, homicide, AIDS-related, chronic infections, unsafe abortions and pregnancy complications.
- Emotional And Psychological
Many victims of GBV face life-threatening emotional and mental consequences, including anger, mental illnesses, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and suicidal fear.
The social consequences that victims experience include victim blaming, social isolation and rejection, and the inability to play specific roles in society, such as earning an income or caring for children.
Supporting Anti – GBV Efforts
There are always actions that any person can take to promote anti –GBV efforts, and these are some of the ways that you can show support.
Gain knowledge about GBV and share it with others
One of the key ways you can offer support to anti – GBV efforts is being educated about GBV. You can gain this information from blogs, articles, books or videos. This understanding will help you inform others about what it is, how it occurs and how you can prevent it in your capacity.
Challenge your attitude and behaviours
We can all be biased in some way or another, whether or not we are conscious of it. These biases can be about race, religion, gender, age, etc., and we might use language that might be harmful to others. Part of supporting anti –GBV efforts is to become aware of any biases that we might have, especially regarding gender. It is essential to take actions when we become aware and commit to unlearning and doing better.
Become a positive bystander
Whenever we notice any discriminatory, sexist or abusive behaviour, it becomes our responsibility to speak out for victims. We might see these things as being small as they are merely behaviours and attitudes. Still, they perpetuate the culture of excusing that behaviour and condone disrespect aimed at women and victims.
Do not perpetuate gender stereotypes
In order to dismantle the structures and systems that allow gender inequality to thrive, we must not perpetuate gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes are just some of the critical drivers that fuel gender-based violence. The unrealistic expectations placed by gender stereotypes can promote toxic masculinity in men, such as “boys will be boys”, and disempower women as women are portrayed as passive homemakers. Therefore, you can challenge gender stereotypes by watching the language you use with family, children and friends. Encourage the people in your life to be whatever they want to be regardless of their gender.
Raise awareness about GBV on social media
Social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, allow you to connect with plenty of people that might not be part of your usual social circle. For this reason, you could have a large audience that could bring awareness to issues regarding GBV.
Actively Support Gender Equality
To offer your support for GBV, you will also need to advocate for issues relating to gender inequality openly, whether in work or home contexts. This can be urging your workplace’s leadership to support female leadership or have training opportunities to address gender bias. You can also help organizations that aim to prevent GBV, whether this is by volunteering or offering financial assistance.
Additionally, see How Women Can Keep Safe as GBV Reports Spike Up During Lockdown.