“The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a profound and widespread problem in South Africa, impacting on almost every aspect of life. GBV (which disproportionately affects women and girls) is systemic, and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in South Africa. However, others are affected too.
GBV can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or structural, and can be perpetrated by intimate partners, acquaintances, strangers and institutions. Most acts of interpersonal gender-based violence are committed by men against women, and the man perpetrating the violence is often known by the woman, such as a partner or family member.
Intimate partner violence (IPV)
IPV is the most common form of GBV and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviours by a current or former intimate partner or spouse, and can occur in heterosexual or same-sex couples.
Domestic violence refers to violence which is carried out by partners or family members. As such, DV can include IPV, but also encompasses violence against children or other family members.
exual violence (SV)
Sexual violence is “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.
Whilst people of all genders perpetrate and experience intimate partner and or sexual violence, men are most often the perpetrators and women and children the victims.
More than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009 were killed by an intimate male partner.
Between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV in their lifetime.
Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime.
Prevalence estimates of rape in South Africa range between 12% and 28% of women ever reporting being raped in their lifetime.
Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a women.
Non-partner SV is particularly common, but reporting to police is very low. One study found that one in 13 women in Gauteng had reported non-partner rape, and only one in 25 rapes had been reported to the police.
South Africa also faces a high prevalence of gang rape.
Most men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s.
There is limited research into rape targeting women who have sex with women. One study across four Southern African countries, including South Africa, found that 31.1% of women reported having experienced forced sex.
Male victims of rape are another under-studied group. One survey in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape found that 9.6% of men reported having experienced sexual victimisation by another man.
This typology of violence provides a useful framework for understanding the complex patterns of violence in the lives of individuals, families and communities. It captures the nature of violent acts, the relevance of the setting, the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, and – in the case of collective violence – possible motivations for the violence. One should keep in mind that this is just a model and in reality the dividing lines between the types or nature of violence are not always this clear - they can easily overlap, and influence or reinforce each other.