Violence against women is a serious problem in South Africa. Horrific stories of intimate partner violence have been highlighted in the media since the #MenAreTrash hashtag went viral, sparked by the news in May 2017 that missing student Karabo Mokoena  was murdered by her boyfriend. While local women have been expressing their anger, a South Africa Demographic and Health Survey was released on the 15 May.  The statistics for violence against women remain dire.

Stats SA in partnership with the South African Medical Research Council conducted the survey. One of the survey’s core objectives was to measure violence against women in South Africa. Although there is constitutional protection against all forms of abuse, such as the Domestic Violence Act, the stats show that the problem is ongoing.

Physical violence against women

  • 21% of women over the age of 18 reported that they had experienced violence at the hands of a partner. That’s one in five women.
  • 8% of these women reported that they had experienced such violence during the last 12 months of taking the survey
  • Divorced or separated women are more likely to experience physical abuse
  • The Eastern Cape has the highest rate of physical abuse (with a whopping 32% women reporting physical abuse)
  • KwaZulu-Natal has the lowest rate of physical abuse (with an equally shocking 14% of women reporting physical abuse)
  • Other provinces also showed worryingly high figures: The North West (29,4%); Mpumalanga (26,4%); Free State (21,4%); Western Cape (21,2%) and the Northern Cape (18,7%)

The survey also showed that it is particularly women living in the lowest wealth quintile that experiences the most physical violence; similarly women with no education.

Sexual violence against women

  • 6% of women over the age of 18 reported that they experienced sexual violence
  • 2% of these women reported that they experienced such violence during the last 12 months of taking the survey
  • 16% of divorced or separated women experienced experienced sexual violence by a partner
  • 10% of women living with a partner reported sexual violence against them
  • The North West reported the highest rate of sexual violence (with 11,8% of women reporting sexual violence against them)
  • KwaZulu-Natal reported the lowest rate of sexual violence (with 3,1% of women reporting sexual violence against them)

Much like with the physical violence statistics, it is women in the lowest wealth quintile that experience the highest rates of sexual violence.

The purpose of this survey is to indicate the current statistics surrounding some of the most prevalent issues in the country, such as maternal health, children’s nutrition, immunisation, fertility, contraceptive practices, physical and sexual violence, among others. You can read the full SADHS report released by Stats SA here.