Release systemic chokes that trap us in inequality

Gender-based Violence initiatives

The DG Murray Trust Gender-based (GBV) Violence Iitiatives are dedicated to improving the lives of women in South Africa. These initiatives are a bold demonstration of effective strategies to combat the pervasive crisis of Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF). Our focus extends beyond mere intervention; we strive to model innovative solutions while providing crucial support to address gender-based violence head-on.

The disconnect

This explains why the project exists

In the enduring aftermath of apartheid, South Africa grapples with entrenched power imbalances, fostering an environment where gender-based violence (GBV) lurks beneath societal norms. DGMT GBV aims to support initiatives that are not just reactions to a social malaise; but unified protest of the normalised violence that disproportionately affects women and marginalised genders. The initiatives that dare to challenge the prevailing order, seek to disrupt a tragic narrative that dehumanises and devalues lives. Research demonstrates that apart from the evident physical and psychological manifestations, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) can have profound effects on survivors across various personal, social, and spiritual dimensions, hindering their capacity to form connections with themselves, others, and the broader world.1 Sinko L., Saint Arnault D. (2019). Finding the strength to heal: Understanding recovery after gender-based violence. Violence Against Women, 26(12–13), 1616–1635. For instance, numerous survivors grapple with the daunting task of reconstructing their sense of self and identity following such traumatic experiences, as they endeavour to find significance.2 Barnes R. (2013). “I’m over it”: Survivor narratives after woman-to-woman partner abuse. Partner Abuse, 4(3), 380–398. 3 Duma S. E., Mekwa J. N., Denny L. D. (2007). Women’s journey of recovery from sexual assault trauma: A grounded theory-part 1[combined with part 2]. Curationis, 30(4), 4–11. 4 Flasch P., Murray C. E., Crowe A. (2017). Overcoming abuse: A phenomenological investigation of the journey to recovery from past intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 32(22), 3373–3401. 5 Taylor J. Y. (2004). Moving from surviving to thriving: African American women recovering from intimate male partner abuse. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 18(1), 35–50. At its core, this struggle is about dignity, opportunity, and the resilience of GBV survivors striving for new beginnings amidst adversity, ultimately aiming to enhance the lived experiences of women across South Africa.

The Reality Check: Understanding the Urgency

In the announcement of the second-quarter crime statistics for 2023/2024, Police Minister Bheki Cele unveiled alarming figures. Between July and September, South Africa reported 10,516 cases of rape, 1,514 incidents of attempted murder, and 14,401 assaults targeting female victims.6 These harrowing statistics, disclosed on November 24, 2023, underscore the persistent challenges and the pressing need to confront gender-based violence head-on. However, it’s crucial to recognise that these figures may not fully capture the extent of the issue due to underreporting stemming from stigma, fear, or mistrust in the legal system.

The Role of GBV Initiatives: Empowerment and Resistance

GBV prevention and response initiatives serve as vital spaces for survivors to reclaim their voices and take center stage in narratives of healing and empowerment. By acknowledging the interconnectedness between the fight against gender-based violence and broader social justice movements, these initiatives embody acts of symbolic resistance. They aim to unravel the tragic storyline of violence, replacing it with narratives rooted in empowerment, healing, and justice. They shine a spotlight on the shadows of inequality, inviting collective transformation towards equity, respect, and a shared sense of humanity.


The majority of South Africans are stuck in an inequality trap with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Most are stuck in intergenerational loops of exclusion with few chances to escape. Breaking this cycle requires a fundamental change in life trajectories, starting in the womb.

Think of a Möbius strip – just one twist in the circle allows you to trace a completely different pattern. Instead of being stuck on the inside of a loop, you emerge on the outside. In the same way, escaping the inequality trap requires a fundamental twist to set South Africa on a new path.

The twist in thinking

This explains how the project approaches problems

DGMT GBV Initiative embraces a paradigm shift in problem-solving. Instead of accepting the status quo, we challenge it. We don’t just address the symptoms; we delve deep into the root causes of gender-based violence. By questioning ingrained societal norms and power structures, we seek to initiate and support innovative solutions that foster lasting change.

This approach is informed by extensive research. For instance, a study by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) found that over 40% of men reported having perpetrated physical or sexual violence against women in their lifetime.7 Jewkes, R., Sikweyiya, Y., Morrell, R., & Dunkle, K. (2010). Why, when, and how men rape: Understanding rape perpetration in South Africa. _South African Crime Quarterly, 34_, 23-31. Furthermore, research by the University of Cape Town’s Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit revealed that GBV is deeply intertwined with socio-economic inequalities and rigid gender norms.8 Abrahams, N., Mathews, S., Martin, L. J., Lombard, C., & Jewkes, R. (2013). Intimate partner femicide in South Africa in 1999 and 2009. _PLOS Medicine, 10_(4), e1001412. These findings underscore the necessity of addressing the broader societal issues that contribute to GBV. By applying these insights, we move closer to building a safer and fairer society that prioritises the well-being and safety of women and children.

The trajectory change

This explains what the project is doing to make a difference

Drawing on available research, the DG Murray Trust is deeply committed to catalyzing tangible shifts in South Africa’s gender-based violence (GBV) landscape. Research data underscores the urgent need for action as it reveals the staggering prevalence of GBV within the country. Through evidence-based advocacy, education, and community engagement initiatives, we are actively working to dismantle the entrenched systems of oppression that perpetuate violence. Our approach is rooted in understanding the multifaceted nature of GBV and its intersection with various societal factors, including poverty, inequality, and cultural norms. By addressing these underlying causes, we aim not only to respond to GBV but to prevent it altogether. Our vision is to create inclusive spaces where every individual, regardless of gender, can live free from the pervasive threat of violence and fear. Together, we strive to build a future characterized by dignity, respect, and equality for all.

Trying to change life trajectories is ambitious and profound. It requires us to radically influence the lives of individuals and to be part of changing the circumstances in which they live.

Helpful Resources

Useful Links

Read South Africa’s National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence & femicide here.

On 20 August 2020 DGMT CEO, Dr David Harrison, presented to the Portfolio Committee on Gender-Based Violence in the Ministry of Women, Youth and Person with Disability around the five measures we propose to curb alcohol abuse and how that abuse is linked to gender-based violence.

On 24 August 2020 a webinar was convened by the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in direct response to the public appeal collated by DGMT and signed by over 160 researchers, academics and other interested parties, calling on government to implement five measure to address the binge drinking and alcohol abuse problem in South Africa.

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