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Support for victims of GBV

One of the most important issues facing South African society today is that of gender based violence. Victims and survivors benefit from support groups, professional help and resource centres. Here are a few:

What is gender based violence (GBV)?

According to police ministry spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters, gender based violence includes all contact crime – murder, rape and physical abuse against women. has even gone so far as to declare GBV a global pandemic, affecting 35% of women worldwide.

What is the prevalence in South Africa?

The most recent crime statistics for the 2018/19 financial year reported the following: 

  • 179,683 contact crimes against women
  • 82,728 (of those contact crimes) assault
  • 54,142 (of those contact crimes) assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm
  • 36,597 (of those contact crimes) sexual offences, which includes rape, attempted rape and sexual assault

A Parliament South Africa analysis of crimes against women in South Africa further revealed that approximately 51,1% of the country is female (30,5 million of 59,62 million), and females are experiencing gender-based violence and femicide from those closest to them. 

  • 50% of the assaults against women were conducted by someone close
  • 21% has experienced physical violence by a partner
  • 40% of women divorced or separated were more likely to experience physical or sexual violence
  • Higher instances of GBV occur in the Eastern Cape Province where 31.6% of women have experienced physical violence by a partner; and North West Province where 29.4% of women have experienced physical violence

Despite these staggering statistics, these numbers are more than likely much lower than what’s actually perpetrated since it is estimated that only 1 in 9 crimes of GBV are reported to the South African Police.

What can you do to make your voice heard?

It’s important that we stand united – men and women – to help prevent violence against women and children. These are some things you can do: 

  • Challenge the normalisation of violence against women and children
  • Challenge gender stereotypes and roles
  • Challenge condoning violence against women and children
  • Challenge sexist jokes and remarks about women

What resources are available to victims of GBV and abuse survivors?

Save these numbers in your phone 

  • Crime Stop (all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence):  086 00 10111
  • Childline (report child abuse, toll-free line): 0800 055 555
  • Gender Based Violence Command Centre (24-hour, toll-free line):      0800 428 428
  • Commission for Gender Equality (report gender discrimination and abuses): 0800 007 709
  • Domestic Violence Helpline (Stop Women Abuse): 0800 150 150

How has lockdown affected GBV?

Given that South Africa has among the highest levels of intimate partner violence in the world, lockdown has exacerbated an already dangerous situation. Women and children in abusive homes were isolated with the people they fear the most and the results were staggering. In the first week of lockdown (27–31 March), the police received 2,320 complaints relating to gender based violence.

What has been the local and global response?

Responding to the danger of GBV during the coronavirus pandemic, at the beginning of June, President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the spate of heinous crimes against women, saying it was a ‘dark and shameful week.’ He called on communities to work with the police:

‘Gender based violence thrives in a climate of silence. With our silence, by looking the other way because we believe it is a personal or family matter, we become complicit in this most insidious of crimes.’

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, added his voice:

‘We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners. Over the past weeks, as economic and social pressure and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence. In some countries, the number of women calling support services has doubled.’

Talking to a medical professional is a good place to start to get help and break the culture of silence. You can process your feelings in a safe place and get objective and informed advice on how to deal with what you are going through.


The above is shared for information purposes only and provided on the basis that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.