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PRETORIA, South Africa – The effects of gender-based violence in Africa are now rippling across the continent and have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A country like South Africa, according to Public Works and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, has the highest rate of gender-based violence in the world, a sentiment that was recently echoed by Police Minister Bheki Cele , which cited more than 1,000 cases of gender-based violence. violence based on violence is recorded daily in South Africa.

However, even though South Africa is a hotbed of gender-based violence, it is not the only country on the continent to see an increase in cases. Relatively all countries in Africa are now experiencing an increase in the number of cases of gender-based violence.

Although cultural and religious norms have been seen as the main factors contributing to the problem of gender-based violence, unemployment and poverty have also been highlighted as one of the main reasons for the scourge and, in fact, Africa is considered the poorest continent by organizations such as the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund with millions of people surviving on less than a dollar a day.

As a result, the anger associated with hunger, unemployment and lack of financial stability is in most cases directed towards the ‘weaker sex’, as Nicola Rodda, a victim and gender-based violence activist from the United States, aptly puts it. ‘South Africa I interviewed.

“My take on the cause of GBV is that the abuser feels a lack of power in certain situations and regains the sense of power by abusing the weaker victim, whether sexually, physically, emotionally or financially with a man on a woman and a man on child abuse being the most common, but these are not the only forms that occur, but the two that I have mentioned are the most prevalent, ”he said. Nicola said.

That being said, I also championed the cause by interviewing Knowledge Chuma from Zambia, the founder and president of the Zambia Wushu Kungfu Federation, a non-profit organization that focuses on issues of gender-based violence and he also shared the same sentiment as Nicola citing poverty and cultural norms as the root cause of GBV in Africa.

“The causes of GBV are deeply rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate inequality and powerlessness, especially of women and girls. Various actors such as poverty, lack of education, livelihood opportunities, impunity for crime and abuse also tend to contribute to and reinforce the culture of discrimination and gender-based violence. Such factors are often compounded in terms of conflict and displacement as the rule of law, as societies and families are torn apart, ”Knowledge said.

So now that the root cause of gender-based violence has been established, one can now wonder how the continent can then get rid of such a heinous act? Rest assured this is the follow-up question that I also posed to Knowledge and Nicola and they tackled impeccably and not only that, but they both explained how a victim of gender-based violence can get help from law enforcement officials and how friends and family can help on the recovery journey.

“The best way for the continent to tackle gender-based violence is multifactorial. In Africa, we tend to have patriarchal societies in which men hold greater power than women, so it is easy for a conflict to escalate into a situation where a man exercises his power over the woman, either physically. or sexually. So the solution to this is not just to change patriarchal roles, although education can play an important role in understanding gender equality and equal rights of the sexes, however, in a context more broadly, the feeling of helplessness and helplessness created in the abuser can often be the result of poverty. , unemployment, the feeling of powerlessness in the face of economic or social pressure, thus raising the continent as a whole in terms of availability of jobs, quality of life, quality of services would help to bring out gender-based violence in addition a strong element of education on gender equality and the right of a woman or child not to live in fear of her abuser.

In addition, if a case of gender-based violence is reported to the police and no action is taken, the victim should approach the chief of police and if there is still no action, the victim must go directly to the courts for perfection and the best way for family members and friends to help a victim of gender-based violence would be to help the victim, to remove themselves from the circumstances because that in general, it is true that an abuser who has abused once will abuse again, so the best way is not to let the victim come near the abuser.

In addition, a victim can also refer free of charge to trauma counselors accessible through the police or GBV organizations and also to find other remedies to be able to defend themselves, either physically or financially, through organizations such as legal aid. or religious organizations because this can protect the victim and provide longer-term support for the victim to avoid being abused again by the original perpetrator or by someone else who might perceive them to be vulnerable . Gender-based violence is one of the greatest scourges facing the African continent, ”said Nicola.

Additionally, Knowledge cited that education is the most important factor and also shared a few words of wisdom on how friends and family may be able to approach and engage with a victim of violence. sexist who is not apathetic.

“What the African continent must do to avoid the problem of GBV is to educate young people and adults on this serious problem. We need to give young people the artistic, athletic or academic skills that they might need in the future to avoid lack of employment which leads to depression and anxiety, as this also contributes to the causes of GBV.

If friends or family are approached by the victim, the best way is to respond in a calming manner like, I believe you! I’m here for you! You can tell me as much or as little as you want! It’s not your fault! I’m glad you told me! I’m glad you came to me! So we have to support them because if we don’t, it becomes discriminatory, ”Knowledge said.

It is now incumbent upon every African to do their best to lynch gender-based violence, as it leaves someone with mental or physical challenges and catastrophic challenges for the bereaved on a daily basis.

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