Windhoek - The SADC Secretariat has noted with great concern the high prevalence of gender based violence (GBV) in the region, saying GBV continued to have a negative impact on socio-economic development of the region.
In line with the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation directive of August 2016, the Secretariat conducted a comprehensive study on the prevalence of gender-based violence in the region.
The study distinguishes GBV in the region into three groups namely: emotional, physical and sexual violence. Of the distinctive groups, the prevalence of emotional violence in the region is leading and ranges between 15 to 37 %, followed by physical violence which ranges between 6 to 34 % and sexual violence which ranges between 4 to 26 %.
SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax reiterated the need for member states to implement the recommendations of the study to fight against GBV.
In her remarks at the MCO in Lusaka, Zambia, last week, she said, “To mitigate and prevent the incidences of gender-based violence, the study recommends a number of measures, including to strengthen access to justice for victims and survivors of GBV by creating innovative, and providing alternative solutions including GBV specialised courts.
“May I also call upon member states to implement the study’s recommendations. It is only through concerted efforts that we can tackle gender-based violence. As committed as we are, together we can, if everyone plays his or her part. Let us together end GBV, it begins with us.”
She acknowledged member states for cooperating in the study as well as providing the needed data and information which enabled the regional bloc to successfully conduct the study.
GBV as suggested by the SADC Secretariat, means all acts perpetuated against women, men, boys and girls on the basis of their sex which causes or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological emotional or economic harm. GBV covers domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, human trafficking, sexual and emotional abuse to name a few.
The SADC Secretariat has been making efforts in ending GBV in the region. Among the efforts were the establishment of a protocol on gender and development in 2008 which had six specific targets to be attained in 2015 and aimed at eliminating GBV.
The protocol had a target to enact and enforce legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV; ensure that the laws on GBV provide for the comprehensive testing; treatment and care of survivors of sexual assault; review and reform criminal laws and procedures applicable to cases of sexual offences and GBV; enact and adopt specific legislative provisions to prevent human trafficking and provide holistic service to the victims, with the aim of re-integrating them into society; enact legislative provisions, and adopt and implement policies, strategies and programmes which define and prohibit sexual harassment in all spheres, and provide deterrent sanctions for perpetrators of sexual harassment; and adopt integrated approaches, including institutional cross sector structures, with the aim of reducing current levels of GBV by half by 2015.
According to the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer (2011), 11 member states have adopted legislation that deals with domestic violence.