Throughout my last few blog posts I have been discussing different topics within the area of gender inequality and gender based violence (GBV). In this post, I will explore different types of GBV reform, again with a focus on Africa. I began my research with a news article called “Security reform key to protecting women” from an African magazine, AfricaRenewal. I then read a policy brief on gender justice written by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). I also found a scholarly article in sage journals titled, “Violence against women in South Africa”. Finally, I read an article from News24 titled, “The fight for gender equality needs men”.
GBV is defined by the UN as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women… whether occurring in public or private life”. This can include physical harm, sexual exploitation, and much more. In 1996, the Human Rights Watch estimated over 50,000 cases of sexual assault in South Africa. By 2007, this number skyrocketed to more than 52,000 (SAGE). With such large numbers, it is obvious something must be done. Unfortunately, the police push a lot of GBV, especially sexual abuse, under the rug. In the same study mentioned above, only 7% of those assaults in 2006 were prosecuted.
Luckily, many things are being put into place to combat this problem. In Uganda, the United National Security Council Resolution 1325 was set in place to deal specifically with women’s rights and GBV. Uganda along with many other countries are setting up laws to criminalize GBV. For example, “Under Penal Code Cap. 120 in Ugandan statutory law, some acts of sexual violence against women are legally viewed as crimes against morality” (IJR). In South Africa, they have implemented two laws to combat GBV: Violence Act No 116 and Criminal Law (Sexual Offense and Related Matters). Both laws pride are very inclusive of many aspects within GBV. The first outlines the penalties of physical violence against women and the second outlines the penalties for sexual assault and related incidents.
However, even with legislation in place, we still often fall short; ““the security sector in Africa “finds itself falling short in its responsibility” to protect women, and “is itself often a direct threat to the security of women”” (UN). We need more awareness and active prevention. Not only do women’s groups need to step up, but men. “Promoting equitable gender norms and developing public policy aimed at engaging men and boys helps achieve equality at the household, community and societal levels” (News24). Women can only do so much in this Man’s world; we need their help to get more done.
If we all work together, men and women, developed and underdeveloped countries, then we can put an end to GBV.