Gail Roman from Retreat presented her study on gender violence at the launch of the first National Conference on Violence, Mobilising Science, Community and Policy for Prevention which was held from Monday 15 to Wednesday 17 August in Johannesburg.
The conference was organised to discuss the issues that affect women and how they can be dealt with focusing mainly on gender-based violence.
The conference was jointly launched by the University of South Africa, the South African Medical Research Council’s University of South Africa’s Injury and Peace Research Unit and the Foundation for Professional Development.
Roman, who studied at the University of the Western Cape and holds a Masters Degree in Gender Studies, believes her presentation spoke to sound and contextually relevant practices for the prevention and containment of violence.
The theme of her presentation emanated from her study and focus groups in an attempt to understand and interrogate gender-based violence perpetuated by the church.
“Cases of gender violence are of great concern to the women in the church and needs urgent attention to avoid more deaths. The church is silent on their role in the management of gender violence.
“There is a general increase in divorce cases among married couples and cases of domestic violence which is creating instability and raising more questions than solutions in the church today,” she says.
She goes on to say that in South Africa the rates of homicidal and sexual violence are amongst the most elevated in the world, with high rates and horrific incidents of murder and rape documented in research and reflected in the media.
“The recent high profile cases of Oscar Pistorius and the rapes and murders of Franziska Blochliger and Sinoxolo Mafevuka are just a few examples that highlight the endemic nature of violence in the country.
“My study is an exploration of the role of the church in the resolution of gender violence, rehabilitating victims and perpetrators in the church and in society.
“The presentation was an attempt to seek a context for the challenges victims face,” she says.
Roman concluded her presentation with recommendations which included the need for gender violence awareness and advocacy campaigns.
“Victims of gender violence who are in the church should be referred for legal advice and to the police.
“The church has to speak out on social issues in order to teach correct societal principles,” she says.