The Devastating Effects of Gender-Based Violence in South Africa: Real-Life Examples and the Way Forward

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive issue that affects millions of people worldwide, but it is particularly prevalent in South Africa. This form of violence, which includes physical, sexual, and psychological harm, disproportionately affects women and girls. Despite efforts to raise awareness and combat this problem, South Africa still has one of the highest rates of GBV globally. This article will explore the effects of GBV in the country, citing real-life examples, and discuss potential solutions to address this crisis.

The Extent of Gender-Based Violence in South Africa

  1. South Africa’s high GBV rate: The country has one of the highest rates of GBV worldwide, with statistics suggesting that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime. This includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
  2. Murder rate of women: South Africa has a femicide rate that is five times higher than the global average. In 2019, a woman was murdered every three hours in the country.

Real-Life Examples of Gender-Based Violence in South Africa

  1. Uyinene Mrwetyana: A 19-year-old University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, was raped and murdered in 2019. Her death sparked nationwide protests and calls for action against GBV.
  2. Karabo Mokoena: In 2017, Karabo Mokoena, a 22-year-old woman, was murdered by her boyfriend, who then burned her body in an attempt to cover up the crime. This tragic event brought attention to the issue of intimate partner violence in the country.
  3. The “Total Shutdown” protest: In 2018, South African women took to the streets in a protest called the “Total Shutdown,” demanding the government take action against GBV. This movement highlighted the widespread nature of the problem and the need for urgent solutions.

Effects of Gender-based Violence in South Africa with examples

  1. Physical and psychological harm: GBV results in physical injuries, long-term health complications, and psychological trauma for survivors. This can include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  2. Economic impact: GBV can lead to lost productivity and increased health care costs. Furthermore, it perpetuates gender inequality, limiting women’s access to education, employment, and financial independence.
  3. Societal consequences: GBV normalizes a culture of violence and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. It also undermines social cohesion and hinders progress towards a more equal and just society.

Potential Solutions

  1. Legal and policy reforms: Strengthening laws and policies surrounding GBV is crucial to addressing the issue. This includes implementing harsher penalties for perpetrators and improving the support available for survivors.
  2. Education and awareness: Raising awareness about GBV and promoting gender equality is essential in changing societal attitudes and norms. Education campaigns should target both men and women, promoting healthy relationships and consent.
  3. Support services: Providing accessible and comprehensive support services for survivors of GBV is necessary. This includes medical care, counseling, and legal assistance.


The effects of gender-based violence in South Africa are far-reaching and devastating, impacting the lives of countless individuals and society as a whole. By implementing comprehensive and effective solutions, South Africa can work towards eradicating this scourge and creating a safer, more equal future for all its citizens.

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