Risk factor management and perpetrator rehabilitation in cases of gender-based violence in South Africa: implications of salutogenesis

14 Aug 2020

It has become an established socio-political reality that South Africa has evolved into a very violent society, the manifestations of which are seen over the last two decades, despite having transitioned to a post-apartheid context. A woman is reported to be killed every eight hours in South Africa (Sapa, ?MRC says 3 women a day killed in SA?, 7 November 2012). The interpersonal nature of the violence is suggestive of societal fragmentation particularly where the perpetrator is known to the victim and where there are fatal or protracted consequences of abuse. The phenomenon of gender-based violence has reached virtually epidemic proportions and continues to manifest in various ways, such as domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and the murder of intimate partners. As perpetrators or potential perpetrators of gender-based violence, South African men of have become central to the perpetuation of the problem and it is crucial that they be targeted for intervention measures. The health promotion model provides for interventions aimed at primary prevention, early detection and tertiary care or rehabilitation. Whilst tertiary interventions may be too little too late, the early detection interventions are a logical next step to advocacy and awareness campaigns. Whilst rehabilitation interventions are reactive, early detection fosters agency and reflection and is by design pro-active. This Briefing explores how a structured process of targeted interventions for men who may be prone to committing acts of gender-based violence through the model of salutogenesis (creation of wellness), as opposed to models of pathogenesis (creation of illness), could potentially become a key aspect of the solution towards attempting to bring down the overall rates of violence across the national spectrum. It draws on experiential work and theoretical knowledge that is resonant in various practitioner (and researcher) contexts such as the Advice Desk for the Abused, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that deals with crisis intervention. Current practices are problematised and the implications of the salutogenesis model are presented in the context of gender-based violence