The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 defines domestic violence as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal, psychological abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, harassment and stalking. It also includes the damage to property, entry into the complainant’s residence without consent where the parties do not share the same residence or any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards the complainant where such conduct harms or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health and wellbeing of the complaint.

How is domestic violence a social issue?

Domestic violence is a social issue as its consequences affect many aspects of society. Even though the problem usually occurs in the privacy of one’s home, its ramifications can affect us all directly and indirectly. For example, domestic violence victims frequently miss work days and are less productive, which has economic consequences.

Children and domestic violence

Violence against children continues to be a significant problem for South African society. High poverty and unemployment add to South Africa’s great inequality and violent history.

Many children are in danger of domestic abuse, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. The level of violence in South Africa is concerning. Abuse and neglect have been woven into the nation’s social fabric due to how normalised violence has become in daily life.

Due to the severe HIV epidemic in South Africa, millions of children have become orphaned and are at increased risk in homes with other children.

South Africa is a popular destination for refugees fleeing conflicts; however, these refugees’ children are subject to prejudice and frequently refused access to healthcare and educational opportunities.

In South Africa, gender-based violence is a crisis, with twelve women being murdered daily. Young girls and boys are victims of all types of crime and have become targets of shockingly high levels of sexual violence and murder.

In South Africa, where children and young people are embracing technology quickly, they are not just exposed to violent content online but also frequently the targets of cyberbullying.

Women and domestic violence

The latest South African crime statistics published on 17 February 2023 demonstrated how cruel and unsafe South Africa is for women and children. Unacceptably high and disturbing crimes against women and children were reported between October and December 2022. Let’s have a look at a few of the statistics:

  • In South Africa, 1101 women and 319 children were murdered in those three months.
  • In total, 7555 people were killed daily between October and December 2022.
  • 12419 rape cases were reported at the police, showing an increase of 9.8% compared to the same period in 2021. 5935 rape incidents occurred at the residences of the perpetrators or survivors, meaning the victim was raped by someone they know.
  • 15545 sexual offences were reported to the police between October and December 2022.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) worldwide among nations that compile GBV statistics.

According to police figures, during 2019 and 2020, there were an average of 146 reported sexual offences each day in South Africa, 116 of which were rape. Those are only the reported cases, and organisations in South Africa suggest that only every 25th woman opens a rape case with the police.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) released a report in May 2020. The report stated that the failure of the police to consistently serve and enforce protection orders, as well as the low rates of prosecution and conviction in domestic violence cases in South Africa, exposed survivors to repeated abuse and violated their legal rights.

Solutions that can eradicate domestic violence and femicide

  1. The normalisation of gender inequality must end, which can be done by changing policies and increasing awareness through advocacy and social mobilisation.
  2. Funding must be made available to organisations and activists at the forefront of this epidemic.
  3. We can stop violence by raising public awareness, educating people, and implementing sensible policies.
  4. We need an urgent response to victims and survivors of gender-based violence. Expanding survivors’ access to justice High-level initiatives for prevention can alter social norms and behaviour.
  5. Enhancing the framework already in place and encouraging accountability in developing new economic opportunities for women at risk of being abused because they are underprivileged.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence and need support, please reach out to: