South Africa: Alcohol Fueled Violence Against Women Epidemic
As BBC reports violence against women has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. According to the Daily Maverick alcohol is a key factor fueling this rise in violence.
According to BBC, about 2,700 women and 1000 children were murdered by men in 2018. Additionally there are about 100 reported rapes daily. Reportedly, sexual offences including rape have increased by 4.6% in 2019.
President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the matter in an emergency sitting at the parliament and said alcohol is fueling this violence.
… alcohol abuse fuels the gender-based violence pandemic,” said the President in his statement as per The Daily Maverick.
According to Statistics South Africa, either the perpetrator or the victim were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in 72% of sexual violence incidents taking place outdoors and 23.3% of incidents taking place at home.
President Ramaphosa pledged $75m (£60m) for measures including public education, strengthening the criminal justice system, increasing sentences for perpetrators of sexual offences, and providing better care for victims. The plan also includes measures to improve women’s economic power.
However, the only measure suggested to reduce alcohol and other drug use was “increasing the visibility of substance abuse awareness and education and prioritising funding for more treatment facilities.”
Alcohol control policy necessary to curb the fuel for violence against women
David Harrison of The Daily Maverick argues that government awareness campaigns are no match for the alcohol industry marketing and instead suggests the WHO recommended best buy policies would have a much bigger effect on protecting women and girls from violence.
The WHO alcohol policy best buys include restricting alcohol availability, increasing prices and decreasing affordability and implementing bans on alcohol advertising, promotions and sponsorship.
He further argues binge alcohol use is a risk factor for violence which can be reduced through alcohol pricing policies such as minimum unit pricing.
Gender-based norms and complex intricacies may be causing the increasing violence against women in South Africa, but it is evident alcohol is fueling this epidemic. While long-term solutions are necessary to resolve the problem, an effective short term solution would be strengthening alcohol control policy and cutting off the fuel to this epidemic.