According to the Human Rights Council Report of the Special Rapporteur in 2016 on ‘Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences on her Mission to South Africa’, South Africa is considered to be a young democracy deeply influenced by its historical violent past characterised by a race, class and gender divide. It is opined that the violence that plagues the state is inherited from the apartheid era and that it still resonates in today’s society which is dominated by patriarchal norms and attitudes towards the role of women and which makes violence against women, especially in rural areas and in informal settlements, a way of life and an accepted social phenomenon. When a woman does not feel safe, this affects every aspect of her life. The victims of gender violence in South Africa are mainly women.
In South Africa, the likelihood of a woman having undergone sexual or gender-based violence (SGBV) is high. In 2012, a study conducted by Gender Links found that 77% of women in Limpopo, 51% in Gauteng, 45% in the Western Cape and 36% in KwaZulu-Natal had experienced some form of gender-based violence (GBV) with men considered to be the main perpetrators with 76% of men in Gauteng, 48% in Limpopo and 41% in KwaZulu-Natal admitting to perpetrating gender-based violence on women. These percentages increase every year indicating that GBV is on the increase.
A study surveying 1 306 women in three South African provinces found that 27% in the Eastern Cape, 28% in Mpumalanga and 19% in Limpopo had been physically abused in their lifetime by a current or ex-partner. It has been statistically posited by the 2017 Demographic and Health Survey that 1 woman out of 5 women in South Africa has experienced physical violence. This is without considering sexual violence- with regard to sexual violence, the South Africa Police Service reported 64 419 (2012), 66 197 (2014), 62 226 (2013) and 53 617 (2015) cases. In the same vein, 4 in 10 divorced or separated women reported sexual violence as did 1 in 3 women in the poorest households in South Africa. With the odds staked against women, it is imperative that there should be a revitalised enthusiasm to tackle SGBV in South Africa.
According to Amnesty International, violence against women and girls, including gender-related killings, remains widespread. Over 39,000 cases of rape were reported to the police between April 2016 and March 2017. Although this was the case, in September 2017, the Medical Research Council stated that only 8.6% of rape cases opened by the police in 2012 had resulted in convictions thus indicating that a lot is yet to be done as police officers have been considered lacking in terms of resources and training. According to the Population Council, SGBV poses significant risks to the health and well-being of women and girls, including physical injuries, psychological trauma, and sexually transmitted infections. There are organisations in South Africa however, both private and public that mandate themselves to address issues that relate to SGBV in the country.
Find organizations that support SGBV victims below.
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