A recent review of evidence by the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) shows that alcohol drives gender based violence (GBV). The review was discussed during a Mail & Guardian online event on December 2, 2021, hosted in collaboration with SAAPA.

The review was funded by the Ford Foundation. It does not excuse perpetrators for their violent behavior. Instead it shines a light on the ubiquitous presence of alcohol outlets in communities and how this relates to alcohol harm, especially gender based violence (GBV).

Dr Leane Ramsoomar-Hariparsaad, a researcher at the SAMRC, presented the research at the Mail & Guardian webinar. The research shows a clear link between alcohol and GBV.

According to the review of evidence:

  • Men with alcohol use problems have a tripled risk of perpetrating gendered interpersonal violence.
  • Women whose partners were regularly alcohol intoxicated were almost six times more likely to experience interpersonal violence (IPV) or GBV.
6 times greater risk of violence for women whose partners are regularly alcohol intoxicated
According to the evidence review by SAAPA and SAMRC, women whose partners were regularly alcohol intoxicated were almost six times more likely to experience IPV or GBV.

Previous research reported by Movendi International has covered how alcohol fuels GBV and IPV.

Drivers of GBV exist on multiple levels: individual, societal, relationship and community levels. Patriarchy, poverty and a culture of violence play a role in the problem. Factors such as childhood trauma, poor mental health, substance use problems and poor communication and conflict in relationships drive GBV.

All of these factors which drive GBV are caused and exacerbated by alcohol problems, poor mental health and child abuse. 

Structural factors such as alcohol outlet density and alcohol trading hours increase the risk of GBV.

In one instance, the mapping of an urban site in South Africa showed more alcohol outlets than schools. The reviewers recommend that alcohol density and trading times should be considered in the awarding of licenses to reduce GBV risk.

Nelisiwe Hlophe, Senior Programme Manager at the Soul City Institute, said she has seen structural factors increasing GBV on the ground. For example, an unlicensed tavern was situated just 200m away from a school, in clear violation of municipal bylaws. At least 10 learners from the school reported being raped by tavern patrons. 

The report highlighted that poor implementation of regulations and laws in sub-Saharan Africa fuels the problem.

Meanwhile the alcohol industry spends billions to increase alcohol consumption and their profits ignoring the risk of violence to women. The industry pays celebrities and influencers to promote alcohol as attractive and to associate alcohol with success.

At the same time the alcohol industry resists government regulation arguing for self-regulation which is evidently failing to protect South Africans, specifically women.

Lebogang Ramafoko, Chief Executive of the Tekano Atlantic Fellowship Health Equity, South Africa said the alcohol industry will continue to target young people and women, increasing their risk of harm. She added that these review findings can be used by communities to hold those in power accountable.

Ms. Ramafoko further raised concerns about conflicts of interest arising due to industry funded research.

People have a right to live, and to work, and to play in alcohol-safe zones,” said Dr. Leane Ramsoomar-Hariparsaad, a researcher at the SAMRC, as per Mail & Guardian.

Dr. Leane Ramsoomar-Hariparsaad, researcher, SAMRC

There is an urgent need for increased political commitment to address the structural drivers of GBV such as alcohol outlet density and opening hours. The disproportionately high numbers of alcohol outlets and trading hours which exceed the national norms and standards set in 2016 drive higher alcohol availability in communities, increasing alcohol harm, such GBV.

The government urgently needs to develop comprehensive national alcohol policy solutions, harmonizing legislation at local, provincial and national level and ensure that all communities enjoy the same rights to safety.

Source Website: Mail & Guardian