Real solutions to GBV continue to elude nation in mourning
On the August 23, Asithandile “Kwasa” Zozo, who was pretty much a daughter to me, was laid to rest. Her life was cut short at a young age in a senseless act of violence committed by what can only be described as a deranged young man.
Crimes of gender-based violence (GBV) are drowning our country in the blood of innocents. Whether we curl into a ball of pain or lash out in anger at this horrible crime, the child is gone.
It has become clear that the state, often projected as all-powerful by the politicians who feed off it, does not know how to deal with this issue.
Similarly, the rest of society seems lost, helpless and frustrated by the ongoing bloodbath.
In the short term, it seems law enforcement could do more to arrest and prosecute perpetrators. However, in the long term, we have yet to fully decipher the root causes of the mental instability that leads to the heinous acts of GBV.
By all indications, we are still some way off from the real solutions.
Though we are a nation in mourning, we have to push on. We have to uproot the very causes of violence in our society.
We have to reverse what seems like a tidal wave of violence and depravity which is threatening to sweep this nation away. We must keep from tiring or falling into despair.
Rather, we must keep fighting because we are literally fighting for the soul of this nation. As our prisons fill up with desperate and violent citizens, killers of men, women, and children, we must ask ourselves why the value of human life seems to have fallen so far.
An important contribution in this fight was made by Amber Peterman, Shalini Roy, and Meghna Ranganathan in their 2019 article, How is economic security linked to gender-based violence? New insights from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum 2019.
“Violence experts have long acknowledged the link between economic insecurity and gender-based violence (GBV). Though GBV cuts across geography and socioeconomic status, the poor face disproportionately high risks.
A positive impact on the economy can result in a meaningful reduction in GBV and other forms of violence
“Globally, economically insecure individuals tend to live in locations with more conflict, fewer support activities and weaker legal systems. At the same time, economic insecurity or chronic poverty makes individuals and households themselves more likely to experience acute stress and resort to risky coping strategies that increase the risk of GBV.”
While some people may argue that SA is not officially identified as a conflict area, the truth is SA has a high murder rate comparable to conflict areas.
While SA has an affluent economic stratum, it is largely poor. This translates into a country that can be classified as economically insecure, with citizens largely exposed to high levels of acute stress.
It is well documented that SA also exhibits a widespread use of risky coping strategies such as alcohol and drug abuse. This makes the high incidence of GBV unsurprising under these circumstances.
It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that a positive impact on the economy can result in a meaningful reduction in GBV and other forms of violence.
While we can look at the circumstance of Asithandile’s murder notwithstanding the excruciating pain of such an exercise, this effort covers too narrow an area to have a sizeable impact in our society.
Asithandile’s killer will surely be held to account for his actions. . However, this will not bring Asithandile back, nor will it guarantee that no female will be killed by a so-called lover or ex-lover again.
This demands a committed national effort to build a robust and inclusive economy, built to involve men and women as equally valuable partners. This in turn requires a realignment of the social roles played by men and women. We need to move away from the roles where men play benefactors and women beneficiaries, as often seen in traditional social order.
However, instead of a reversal of roles, often seen in modern society, what is required is a far more co-operative approach to all human activity.
Ultimately the most powerful among us must use power to unleash power among the least powerful. Obviously, the ruling party doesn’t understand this.
Perhaps, if we do instead, Asithandile’s life will pave a way towards a better, more inclusive and co-operative society.
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