OPINION | The only way to tackle gender-based violence is at its root: the offenders

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As news reports swirl about a woman whose body was found on Women’s Day after having been raped and murdered, and amid an ever-increasing load of gender-based violence (GBV) cases, it is easy to become discouraged in the fight against the scourge. Photo by Getty Images
As news reports swirl about a woman whose body was found on Women’s Day after having been raped and murdered, and amid an ever-increasing load of gender-based violence (GBV) cases, it is easy to become discouraged in the fight against the scourge. Photo by Getty Images

As news reports swirl about a woman whose body was found on Women’s Day after having been raped and murdered, and amid an ever-increasing load of gender-based violence (GBV) cases, it is easy to become discouraged in the fight against the scourge.   

With every passing year, there seems to be less and less to celebrate when Women’s Month rolls around. Women and girls find themselves the victims of some of the most heinous crimes in South Africa.   

Our society has a worryingly high level of acceptability for violent crime, including GBV. This is primarily owed to our violent history and is made worse because many South Africans find themselves living in vulnerable communities. With ongoing lockdowns having compounded the problem, our government needs all the help it can get in bringing an end to GBV.   

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For those of us at the forefront in dealing with GBV in instances like domestic violence, we must remain resolved to end violence against women, children, and people in the LGBTQI+ community for good.   

The only way to achieve that goal is to tackle the problem at its root: the offenders.  

The issue of GBV lies on the part of those who behave violently towards women. Without bringing about a change in behaviour on their part, it is hard to imagine how we would ever bring an end to GBV.   

The National Institute of Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) works directly with offenders to change their behaviour and prevent them from committing the same acts of violence again. Our approach is to provide intervention that will guide them on a process in which they are sensitised to the fact that their behaviour is harmful while supporting the victim at the same time.  

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In the last year, we intervened in just over 450 domestic violence cases at the cost of R 2 175 750. We’ve also reached a further 8 388 people through community outreach efforts to raise awareness about the scourge of violence, including GBV. These efforts include educating communities about their rights while raising awareness about the damaging effect of violence, especially GBV.  

Organisations like ours need all the help that we can get to go in and deal with GBV at its root. The more people that get involved and lend a hand, the better. If we work together, we can realise the vision of a crime-free South Africa, where women and children are protected and safe. 

*Betzi Pierce is the CEO of NICRO 

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