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Gender Based Violence Project

Gender-based violence (GBV), especially threats directed at women such as sexual and domestic violence, remain a serious regional and global human security concern. South Africa (SA) has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. SA, during the Coronavirus pandemic, has reported increased incidents of GBV including cases perpetrated within and around campuses of higher education institutions. The causal factors of GBV are complex and intertwined with social and patriarchal constructions that places maleness in the center of society, with men dominating the most visible roles and an expectation that women will occupy subordinate positions. This view is prevalent in SA society and in most academic settings and effects power relations in society. From a power relationship perspective GBV is a display of power with culture often negating the concept that women need to provide consent for sexual intercourse with their partners. In this cultural paradigm rape is inconceivable. Consent is also undermined by high level of adult per capita alcohol consumption and substance abuse . Alcohol and substance abuse, that are high in higher education settings, often leads to violence against women, risky sexual behavior such as inconsistent condom use, coercive sex or rape and multiple sexual partners .

GBV against women and girls in SA is complicated by several factors including extremely high levels of inequality as evident in the Gini coefficient, deep poverty, high levels of unemployment particularly among the youth, as well as traditional norms that continue to construct women and girls as subordinate. The negative dividend of this deep societal inequality, evident in high levels of drug and alcohol use, render young women particular vulnerable to abuse. The unfortunate short and long term effects of GBV in higher education institutions include emotional and psychological consequences to GBV in the victim which can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse as a form of self-medication to numb the pain. Victims can suffer academically due to anxiety, low self-esteem, decreased concentration and productivity and may even drop out of courses .

The determinants of homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are multiple and result in high levels of violence against sexual and gender minorities including economic exclusion, exclusion from education, reduced access to healthcare and GBV. The intersection of poverty, sexism and homophobia is particularly evident in the high levels of violence against lesbian women and transgender women in SA.

GBV is underpinned by forms of toxic and patriarchal masculinity that marginalize whole groups of people who do not conform to a male, able-bodied, cis-normative, heterosexual, adult and middle-class norm. For those in marginalized social positions such as women, girls, sex workers, LGBTI people and people with disabilities, GBV functions as a way to police difference and maintain certain groups in subordinate positions e.g. in SA the patriarchal dividend results in: extremely high rates of GBV against women; very high rates of child abuse, particularly against the girl child; some of the highest levels of lesbophobia and transphobia in the world; high levels of violence against sex workers; as well as institutionalized violence and the ongoing marginalization of people with disabilities. Intersectional understandings of GBV foreground the ways in which violence against women and girls is heightened by attitudes towards disability, sex work and sexual orientation and gender identity. Institutionalised sexism, ageism, homophobia and transphobia, and ableism may also hinder effective prevention and response strategies to GBV. In short, there is a continuous chain of violence against marginalized groups.

While the response at an official level is evident in terms of policy and programming, much has yet to be done to prevent violence against women and girls across classes but particularly in communities characterised by poverty. From an ecological perspective, weak legal and criminal justice systems, failure to prosecute perpetrators, and inadequate victim care are seen as contributing risk factors for GBV . It is therefore critical that GBV drivers are understood to develop evidence-based interventions at multiple levels (individual, community, society) as part of an enabling ecological framework. Compounding this situation is a lack of sufficient scientific evaluation of interventions, especially at community level and a fragmentation of data sources with inadequate transition of data to information with linked data visualization to allow informed GBV programming at all levels. Responsibility for GBV programming cuts across numerous South African Government (SAG) departments with weak coordination of efforts at all levels. Inadequate oversight and accountability of service providers, insufficient resource allocation to fund the GBV response, and inconsistent implementation of policies and guidelines contribute to the above-mentioned risk factors and, ultimately, a suboptimal national response and a continued high burden of GBV.

FPD is a SA based Private Institution of Higher Education (PHEI) (designated as the 3rd best PHEI in SA in the 2021 World Scholarship Forum rankings) with a 23-year track record in systems strengthening and training. FPD is one of the largest health sector training organizations in Africa (500?000 participants from 41 countries to date). FPD is a 2021 Top Woman Award recipient for its commitment to gender transformation. FPD is deeply contextualized in the GBV pandemic. FPD to date trained 517?915, managers, educators, health care workers and police services staff on various GBV courses. From 2012 to 2018 FPD in partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority implemented the Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) Project a $ 10 million USAID funded project. FPD also launched the 1st South African National Conference on Violence in 2016 and have organized two follow-up conferences. In response to the increase of GBV during the Coronavirus pandemic FPD launched a fully sponsored Gender Based violence in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic online course that reached 1238 participants. This training was supplemented by a series of animated micro trainings aimed at the general public.

FPD has been providing GBV related training since 2012 through various projects and training provided to health care professionals. Increasing services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) was a project funded by USAID, PEPFAR and MACAIDS in which FPD collaborated with The Soul City Institute, Sonke Gender Justice Network the and South African Medical Research Council in 2012 until 2018. Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) services for survivors of sexual assault were increased from 25 to 55 centers in all nine provinces. FPD trained 5,500 professionals (including court/ legal professionals, educators, social workers, health care workers NGOs and policing forum members) on the integrated management of sexual and gender-based violence during the 5 year project. Under the DREAMS project, the FPD GBV Unit has provided technical assistance to three implementing partners for an evidence-based intervention on post-violence care services (Thuthuzela Care Centre Model) in the districts: eThekwini: North, South & West; uMkhanyakude: Hlabisa & Matubatuba; and city of Johannesburg: Sub-Districts A, D, E & G. A rapid assessment of post-violence care services was conducted in each of the three districts to map health-related services available for survivors of sexual violence, as well as referral pathways to access additional services. In response to the results of the assessment, training was provided to selected professionals to strengthen GBV response in the districts. Notably, FPD was one of the only partners to achieve all of their targets under this project.

The following short courses in GBV are currently offered by FPD:

  • Clinical Forensic Medical Aspects of Gender Based Violence
  • Online Short Course in Gender Based Violence in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Healthcare Providers
  • Short Course in Gender Based Violence in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Doctors: E-Learning
  • Short course in the Integrated Management of Sexual and Gender Based Violence
  • Short Course on Gender Based Violence J88 Form Completion
  • Gender Based Violence for Lay Counsellors

About Us

The objective of this program is to improve services provision and community awareness of services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa, which struggles with one of the highest rates of gender-base violence in the world.

The Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) Programme funded by USAID, is a collaboration of leading South African organizations – Foundation for Professional Development, The Soul City Institute, Sonke Gender Justice Network and the South African Medical Research Council. The objective of this program is to improve service provision and community awareness of services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa, which struggles with one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world. The Government of South Africa’s fight against sexual and gender based violence is spearheaded by the Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs (SOCA) unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) within South Africa’s Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. USAID has worked with the NPA/SOCA since 1999 to establish the Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) model. TCCs provide a comprehensive portfolio of services to survivors of GBV, including emergency medical care, psychosocial counselling, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), HIV testing and counselling, and assistance with case reporting and court preparation in an integrated and victim-friendly manner. The TCC model seeks to streamline the care process for GBV survivors by establishing effective linkages between various service providers and government stakeholders, and to improve legal services by reducing time-to-court and increasing the conviction rate.

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Projects

Soul City Institute (SCI)

The objective of this program is to improve services provision and community awareness of services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa, which struggles with one of the highest rates of gender-base violence in the world.

Soul City Institute focusses on community dialogues aiming at enhancing the services of TCCs in the context of GBV and child abuse. The outputs included community action plans that incorporated engagement by participants with the broader community on the issues of GBV and child abuse, as well as a strategy to connect GBV survivors to TCC services. The Soul City Institute works closely with community forums to connect community members through this dialogue process with the TCCs. The targeted stakeholders at these community dialogues are community based organisations, women’s groups, faith based organisations, community leaders, local authorities, youth groups and TCC staff.


SCI developed information packages on GBV that are available for download. The toolkit is a collection of resources for survivors of sexual assault or gender-based violence and a catalogue of materials useful for programme managers, advocates, clerks of the court, health workers, civil society, South African Police Services and social workers.

Available on http://isssasa.org.za/resources

The Soul Buddyz Clubs (SBC), a school-based project focussing on teaching children about GBV, has been evaluated and the overall results were:

SBC shows promising results

  • Few studies have evaluated the long term effect of school-based programmes
  • This study used innovate methods to recruit controls and cases
  • We found that:
    • Being an SBC member improved participation in community events, educational attainment and likelihood of employment
    • It also impacted on a number of key sexual risk behaviours
      • This was especially true for young women who were less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours and to HIV positive
      • The effect on male ex-Buddyz was not as promising
  • Soul City should continue to promote SBC as a way to reduce HIV risk in young women
  • They should examine why SBC exposure has not been as effective in the long-term in young men>

SCI conducts a national campaign on social media, raising awareness on GBV and TCCs. This work has been augmented with open days conducted at hospitals situated close the TCCs. These open days are bringing together the community and the professionals working at the TCC making sure the services of the TCCs are known.

Social Laboratory: The ISSSASA Project embarked on an innovative process to try and learn more about the current systems that is entrenched in GBV, strengthen relationships between partners working in GBV, restore new thinking and building a collective agency to influence the sector.

Sonke Gender Justice Network

Sonke Gender Justice Network’s interventions focus on local radio with the theme of GBV and information of the purpose and services of TCCs. Sonke trains community radio stations’ staff on GBV, provides technical assistance during radio shows and supports with printed and electronic material. The Safe Ride Campaign was launched with taxi drivers, aiming to create a safe environment for women in taxis.


Foundation for Professional Development

The demand for FPD’s training on integrated management of sexual and GBV was evident as more than 4,000 professionals were trained.


FPD constructed, staffed and managed four TCCs, and also funds and manages four NGOs to provide after hour support to the TCCs.


A highlight for the Unit was supporting the 1st SA National Conference on Violence that took place in Johannesburg during 15-17 August 2016. There were over 400 delegates, 129 speakers, 21 poster presentations and 14 exhibitors. This was a remarkable gathering of people who share a commitment to Mobilise Science, Community and Policy for Prevention in South Africa. The speakers maintained an exceptional quality of the lectures throughout.


FPD has developed and implement an innovative GBV case management system for comprehensive, multi-sectoral support to staff at TCCs. The pilot has been rolled out at four TCCs and the results are very promising.

South African Medical Research Council (MRC)

The national research study of the prosecution and adjudication of sexual assault cases conducted by the MRC has been completed and they are now in the consultative meetings of stakeholder phase of the project. The goal of the study is to generate evidence-based recommendations for strengthening the prosecution and adjudication of sexual assault cases. The specific aim of the project is to describe and analyse the causes of sexual assault case attrition in criminal justice system nationally, including explaining closure of cases by the police, withdrawals of cases from court and acquittals in court.

DREAMS Project

The GBV Unit has been providing technical assistance to three implementing partners for an evidence-based intervention on post-violence care services (Thuthuzela Care Centre Model) in the districts: Ethekwini: North, South & West; Umkhanyakude: Hlabisa & Matubatuba; and city of Johannesburg: Sub-Districts A, D, E & G.

Rapid assessments have been conducted in all five district groups, and training of professionals have commenced in both eThekwini and Johannesburg districts. The rapid assessments have been done via a newly developed application that revolutionised the way research is being conducted.

FPD constructed, staffed and managed four TCCs, and also funds and manages four NGOs to provide after hour support to the TCCs.