Gender Based Violence – the shame of South Africa

by Tshepy Matloga-Malope
Gender Based Violence South Africa
Reading Time: 4 minutes
South Africa has a notably high rate of crime including assaults, rape, murder and other violent crimes. In recent years, however, gender-based crimes have increased with women and children being the victims of Gender-based violence. By Tsephy Matloga

What is GBV?

It’s defined as any act that causes physical, sexual or emotional harm and reinforces gender inequality. Women are disproportionately affected by GBV (although it applies to men and boys as well).

Women continue to be on the receiving end of violent attacks in the country. In the first three months of 2023, 10 512 women were raped, 1485 attempted murders of women were reported, 969 women were killed, and 15000 women were assaulted.

These results were revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele, on 30 May 2023, when he released the South African Police Services (SAPS) crime statistics and offences recorded by police personnel from 1 January to 31 March 2023.

The minister also maintained that a double digit increase of 21.5% was recorded in attempted murder figure for the 4th quarter.

These numbers paint a clear picture of the scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.

The numbers above only indicate the cases that were reported which means that there are other cases out there of GBV that have gone unsolved and continue to rise in the shadows.

Gender Based Violence is the result of a failing country, one riddled with poverty and unemployment, which sees more women and children seeking refuge from men who abuse them.

READ MORE on forms of emotional abuse

How can we overcome GBV?

Victims of GBV cannot only depend on the help of police because court cases can drag on and make the victims even more vulnerable to their abusers for reporting the assaults, which gives rise to the importance of Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organisations fighting GBV (NGOs/ NPOs) important for:

  • Advocating for policy reform
  • Addressing GBV through reproductive health and humanitarian relief programs
  • Educating men and boys about gender equality
  • Shifting attitudes about violent behavior
  • Working with spiritual, community, and cultural leaders

The greatest resource for gender-based victims and those around them is information. Women and children who find themselves in abusive relationships and homes should be able to reach out to organisations that can help them navigate life outside of their immediate environments.

NGOs/NPOs offer counselling which empowers victims to be survivors, helps them put the abuse into perspective (as they are often blamed for it and this affects their self-esteem, self-worth etc), and it helps break the cycle of violence.

GBV is everyone’s issue

Gender-based violence is everyone’s issue because men are generally the perpetrators of violence and including them in the conversation reduces violence.

GBV should be understood within the context of men and women’s relative social and economic disadvantages and discrimination.

Addressing these issues requires understanding and challenging gender inequality, promoting women’s equal right and creating social, political and economic environments in which everyone is empowered to enjoy those rights.

Working with men, as partners against GBV, is critical to the prevention of and response to the issue.

There are challenges, such as finding ways of working with men and women within a community context, and within all development programs.

However, the involvement of men can change behaviors by assisting to strengthen community institutions that can address GBV, and to get men involved in promoting women’s equality and leadership.

Involving men in the fight against GBV in communities creates a safety net for abused women and children because they will always have someone nearby to help them when they need it.

OrganiSations like #Langaformen are dedicated to ending violence against women and children by rounding up numbers of men to teach other men to stop committing gender-based crimes and perpetuating violence through their ability to provide.

Siyabonga Khusela and his friend, Luyolo Lengisi, co-founded #Langaformen in 2019 to take a stand against GBV by mentoring and educating young boys, supporting and advocating for survivors, and bringing awareness to their communities.

Some of their actions include gathering small groups of men to intervene in domestic violence incidences in the community by patrolling to where the disturbances occur. Their approach is peaceful and aims to educate other men around to not fall prey to their anger and entitlement by resorting to violence.

More and more individuals are committing to helping victims of abuse without too much reliance on the government because that way help is always readily available.

Reporting a case to the police can sometimes lead to fatalities due to slow responses from police personnel, who are under-funded and overwhelmed with other cases as well.

Who can help?

There are many organisations like People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa) who provide counselling, both over the phone and in person, temporary shelter, and legal help for women who have experienced violence.

Once a relationship is built between certain members of an organisation and an individual a sense of trust and understanding is established, and further maintained through home visits.

This leads to an open environment where it is easy for victims of abuse to disclose their abuse, share their lived experiences with loved ones and on a broader level begin discussions that challenge the cultural norms perpetuating violence, encouraging a decrease in violence in communities. Gender Based Violence – baby yum yum - BabyYumYum

READ How to get out of an abusive relationship

  1. Powa

Powa provides counselling, both over the phone and in person, temporary shelter for and legal help to women who have experienced violence.

  • Website:
  • Tel: 011 642 4345
  • E-mail:
  1. Childline South Africa

This non-profit organization helps abused children and their families with a free counselling service. It deals with issues such as physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, behavioral problems and trafficking, and gives legal advice.

  • Website: is external)
  • Toll-free helpline: 116
  • E-mail:
  • Social media: Facebook(link is external) and Twitter
  1. Families South Africa (Famsa)

Famsa provides counselling and education to help improve marriages and families. It helps in cases of domestic violence and trauma, divorces and mediation. There are 27 offices across the country.

  • Website:
  • Tel: 011 975 7106/7
  1. Vodacom Bright Sky

The Bright Sky mobile app provides support and information to anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse or is concerned about someone they know. Vodacom is using its purpose of connecting people through technology to tackle the scourge of GBV. If you hear something, do something. The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre operates 24/7.

  • Call toll-free | 0800 428 428
  • SMS HELP to 31531
  • Send a Please Call Me | *120*7867
  1. Tears Foundation

TEARS Foundation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

  • Website:
  • Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#
  • Tel: 010 590 5920
  • Email:
  • Social media: Facebook and Twitter

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