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South Africa’s Reality

In South Africa, a woman is more likely to get raped than finish high school and the country produces almost 600 000 new rape victims per annum. Statistically women suffer very high levels of sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. Violence against women poses a threat to the human rights of women.

Approximately half of all South African women murdered in 1999 were killed by intimate partners. 14 years and older, or a woman killed every six hours – the highest rate yet reported by research anywhere in the world (Mathews et al, 2004).

Community-based prevalence studies find that domestic violence, in one form or another, affects as many as one in two women in some parts of South Africa.

The same study also investigated the prevalence of emotional and financial abuse experienced by women in the year prior to the study.

Rape is extensively under-reported in South Africa. One study found that only one in nine women who had been raped and also had physical force used against them, had subsequently reported the attack to the police (Jewkes and Abrahams, 2002). Of those women identified by the 1998 South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) as having been forced to have sex when they did not want to do so, only 15% (or approximately 1 in 7) women reported being raped to the police (Department of Health,1999).