The Domestic Violence eBook
South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. And, sadly, domestic violence is the most common and widespread human rights abuse in South Africa. Every day, women are murdered, physically and sexually assaulted, threatened and humiliated by their partners, within their own homes.
Organisations estimate that one out of every six woman in South Africa is regularly assaulted by her partner. In at least 46 per cent of cases, the men involved also abuse the children living with the woman.
Although the exact percentages are disputed, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more than men. In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner. Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Some studies have shown that women who assault their male partners are more likely to avoid arrest even when the male victim contacts the police. Another study concluded that female perpetrators are viewed by law enforcement as the victims rather than the actual offenders of violence against men. Other studies have also demonstrated a high degree of community acceptance of aggression against men by women.
Domestic violence also occurs in same-sex relationships. Gay and lesbian relationships have been identified as risk factors for abuse in certain populations. Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour that transgresses the right of citizens to be free from violence. When one partner in a relationship harms the other to obtain or maintain power and control over them, regardless of whether they are married or unmarried, living together or apart, that is domestic violence. The ‘harm’ can take a variety of forms, whether it be from verbal abuse like shouting, emotional abuse like manipulation, control and/or humiliation, physical abuse like hitting and/or punching, and/or sexual abuse like rape and/or inappropriate touching of either the woman or her children.