Being exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) is a harrowing burden that millions face every day, with 1 in 3 women globally having experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

In South Africa, where rates of GBV are even higher than the global average, it’s essential to bring to light as many stories and experiences of gender-based violence, and our response to it, as possible — both to highlight the pervasive nature of gender-based violence, and to ultimately bring it to an end.

GBV is incredibly prevalent in South Africa. The country’s rates of intimate partner violence are five times the global average, and it also has the fourth-highest rate of interpersonal violence-related femicide in the world. Throughout the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa continuously referred to GBV as South Africa’s second pandemic, highlighting just how much of a grip this form of violence has on the country.

In this fight, we as allies and human rights defenders have come to know who we are defending. We speak their names so that they are not forgotten, and we learn more about their lives and their experiences. With each story of GBV told, and every experience had, a fuel is added to our activism fire that calls on us to step up and defend basic human rights.

Alongside the stories of those exposed to GBV, we must also not forget to share the stories of those on the front lines of the fight to end GBV. Their work is not easy, as they lace up their boxing gloves ready to fight for and protect women and girls exposed to GBV.

One key part of South Africa’s front line in this fight is the Gender-Based Violence & Femicide Response Fund. They are not alone of course, as with a fight this large, there needs to be an equally massive army, and the fund recognises that.

“We are just one cog in a much bigger national response,” a representative of the fund told Global Citizen. “The key going forward will be for all members of this multi-sectoral network of organisations across government and civil society, and individuals, to do far more.”

The Gender-Based Violence & Response Fund (GBVF) was founded by President Ramaphosa at the height of the pandemic. Although it was founded by the president, it is led by extensive cross-industry research and is primarily funded by the private sector. The GBVF works to monitor and evaluate the state of GBV in South Africa, and uses these resources to effectively combat this second pandemic. They not only work with numbers to illustrate just how extensive GBV is in South Africa, but they also work with survivors and victims to respond to their needs.

Read the full article about gender-based violence in South Africa by Khanyi Mlaba at Global Citizen.