n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Domestic violence in South Africa

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Globally, domestic violence is a very serious social phenomenon. In South Africa, violence against women and children is widespread and on the increase. Family violence is a pervasive and frequently lethal problem that challenges society at every level. Abuse in families has a devastating effect on its victims physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Violence threatens the stability of the family and has a negative impact on all family members. It is especially true in the case of children who learn from it that violence is an acceptable way of coping with problems and gaining control over another person. Furthermore, it violates the safety, health, welfare and economies of communities as a result of medical expenses, psychological problems, and loss of productivity. It concerns governments, international communities and civil society, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, who should address the problem urgently and effectively. This presentation will start with the definition of the term "domestic violence", followed by an indication of the incidence of domestic violence in South Africa. Subsequently, a history of the problem will be outlined, and traditions, views, perceptions and attitudes regarding domestic violence will be examined. The main discussion will deal with measures taken by the government and other agencies to control the problem. Furthermore, steps that have been successful in combating the problem, as well as organisations and programmes which have failed, will be addressed. Finally, measures taken to compensate for these failures, will be outlined. Due to the limited scope of the article, the focus will be mainly on women as victims of domestic violence.

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