12 Reasons why incidents of Gender-based Violence in Communities Continue

12 Reasons why incidents of Gender-based Violence in Communities Continue in South Africa: Gender-based violence (GBV) is defined as “the general term used to capture violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between genders, within the context of a specific society.” (Safer Space)

The cycle of violence

When a relationship becomes violent, the first attack may seem like an isolated event. But when the violence continues, it usually follows this pattern:

  • Tension builds: anger, arguing, blaming, verbal abuse
  • Violence: hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of objects or weapons, sexual abuse, verbal threats and abuse
  • Calm period: The man may deny the violence, say he is sorry, or promise it will never happen again.

Source: Hesperian.org

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12 Reasons why incidents of Gender-based Violence in Communities Continue

Below are more than 12 reasons on why incidents of Gender-based violence in communities continue:

Physical factors:

  • Lack of physical security owing to break-down of law and order, presence of armed forces/groups, collapse of law enforcement, justice institutions and family, social or community structures. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable when leaving their communities in search of work, food, water and/or firewood.
  • Poverty, lack of education and livelihood opportunities, and inadequate access to shelter, food, water, fuel, and income generation can increase exposure to GBV, including forced prostitution or survival sex.

Social /cultural /political factors:

  • Discriminatory social, cultural or religious laws, norms and practices that marginalize women and girls and fail to respect their rights.
  • Collapse of family, social and communal structures and disrupted roles within the family often expose women and girls to risk and limit coping mechanisms and avenues for protection and redress.
  • Lack of confidence and/or trust in social or public institutions, including law enforcement and justice institutions that discourage victims/survivors from seeking redress.

Judicial barriers:

  • Lack of access to justice institutions and mechanisms, resulting in culture of impunity for violence and abuse (see Part V.10).
  • Lack of adequate and affordable legal advice and representation.
  • Lack of adequate victim/survivor and witness protection mechanisms

Individual barriers:

  • Threat or fear of stigma, isolation and social exclusion.
  • Exposure to further violence at the hands of the perpetrator, the community or the authorities, including arrest, detention, ill-treatment and punishment.
  • Lack of information about human rights and on how and where to seek remedies.

Humanitarian programming obstacles:

  • Failure to address or prioritize GBV in assessments, strategy development, planning and programming because of a lack of information or understanding about the extent or nature of GBV.
  • Lack of gender-sensitive design of programmes, services and facilities, including inadequate registration practices and distribution of food and non-food items.
  • Sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, human rights and humanitarian workers.
  • Other challenges including weak links with other assistance and protection programmes, lack of confidentiality, confusing reporting and referral mechanisms, and GBV committees that are isolated, under-resourced and weak, and lack support from the wider community.

Also Read:


  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) www.unfpa.org
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) www.unhcr.org
  • UNIFEM Portal on Women, Peace and Security www.womenwarpeace.org
  • Reproductive Health Response in Crisis Consortium (RHRCC) www.rhrc.org
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) www.icrc.org/eng/women
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) www.irc.org