Sonke’s submission on the Liquor Amendment Bill draws attention to the link between alcohol abuse and gender-based violence

On Wednesday 30 November, Sonke Gender Justice submitted its comments on the proposed Liquor Amendment Bill to the Department of Trade and Industry. Our submission is endorsed by several organisations including: UCT Women’s Health Research Unit (WHRU);
 Gun Free South Africa (GFSA); Rock Girl;
 Sun of Joy Foundation; Grassroots Soccer;
 University of Pretoria Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender; LifeLine Free State; and
 Kwanele-Enuf Foundation.

Some of the Bill’s more controversial clauses include: implementing restrictions on alcohol advertising; creating radius restrictions on places of liquor trading; and increasing the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 years.

Sonke’s interest in providing comments on the Bill stems from our concern over the links between alcohol abuse and its impact on gender-based violence (GBV). Evidence further suggests that alcohol misuse increases the likelihood and severity of GBV. Studies indicate that men with alcohol problems are generally more likely to commit intimate-partner violence, and that women with male partners who “come home drunk frequently” are 4 to 7 times more likely to suffer violence. To this end, lowering alcohol use can reduce the incidence of GBV. We believe that the current Bill could help to this end.

Sonke supports many of the alcohol-reducing interventions proposed in the Bill, including an increase in the minimum drinking age. Numerous studies have shown that a higher minimum drinking age leads to decreased consumption of alcohol and decreased prevalence of alcohol-related harms among the youth. Sonke makes a number of recommendations on provisions that are currently not in the Bill, namely: an increase in taxation on alcoholic products; a complete ban on the advertising of alcoholic beverages; and the placement of explicit, graphic and pictorial warning labels on alcoholic beverages.

Sonke supports the Department of Trade and Industry’s proposed initiatives for reducing problem-drinking in the country, and we call for the swift passage of the Liquor Amendment Bill.

For more information, contact

Marlise Richter
Policy Development and Advocacy Unit Manager
082 858 9927


  1. Sonke’s submission can be found at
  3. Steve Allsop Strong evidence for raising drinking age but little support’ The Conversation. Available at:; J Toumbourou ‘Interventions to reduce harm associated with adolescent substance use’ 369 (2007) The Lancet 1391.