South African Government

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Violence against women and children

Government hosts an on-going campaign to voice our anger against violence against women and children. We have to find ways of making our homes and communities safe for all, especially for women and children.

Violence against women takes many forms - physical, sexual, economic, psychological - but all of these represent a violation of human dignity and human rights and have lasting consequences both for women themselves and for their communities.

Research shows that domestic violence against women remains widespread and under-reported, and that victims of violence are not effectively supported by public services. Insufficient specialised services for women and children who are victims of violence and the absence of professional services to victims is only a few of the reasons for non-reporting.

Measures in place to help women and children to fight abuse.

  • The Department of Social Development has established the Gender-based Violence Command Centre with a toll free number 0800 428 428 and ‘a please call me’ number *120*7867#.
  • The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has established 11 Sexual Offences Court in 2016/17. 
  • Eight Khuseleka One Stop Centres offer a continuum of support services to victims of crime as a single service point. 
  • The Department of Social Development is funding 102 shelters for victims of gender-based violence and has also established 19 White Doors (safe houses) to provide safety and shelter services to mostly victims of domestic violence. 
  • Thuthuzela care centres are one-stop centres which enable rape victims to lodge a case with the police and receive counselling and medical care. They are located in various areas in the country marred by high incidence of violence against women and children.
  • By 31 March 2016, the South African Police Service has established 1 027 victim-friendly rooms (VFRs) at certain police stations. The VFRs are private rooms where victims of gender-based violence are interviewed for statement taking. They provide a friendly environment that assures confidentiality, respect and dignity.
  • The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development  has developed a My Safety Plan [PDF] to assist victims of domestic violence to escape unharmed from violent attacks and reach for the much needed social and economic support. The Safety Plan programme is being rolled out in rural communities through the Ndabezitha Programme, and with the assistance of the senior traditional leaders and their wives.

Source: Deputy Minister John Jeffery: Launch of Thembalethu Sexual Offences Court

  • The Domestic Violence Act, 1998 was enacted to give survivors of violence maximum protection from domestic abuse. Women, who are mostly at the receiving end of domestic violence, now have a legal recourse that will ensure their protection.
  • Government has established the National Council Against Gender Based Violence (NCAGBV) to provide strategic leadership, coordination and management of gender-based violence initiatives in South Africa. The Council is chaired by the Deputy President and championed by the Minister of Women.
  • Furthermore, Government has in place legislative provisions that specifically address violence and abuse of women and children.
    • The Children’s Act, 2005 and Children’s Amendment Act, 2007 were enacted to, among other things, protect a child from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
    • The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill will bring about the realisation of women empowerment in all spheres of our society by enforcing compliance in both government and the private sector.
  • The National Action Plan commits the country to a sustained long-term commitment to ensure that the dynamism of changing norms and attitudes is addressed.
  • Government is working on holistic and comprehensive approach that is multi-sectoral in its drive to achieve women empowerment and gender equality.
  • We will continue to involve men and boys as campaigners and survivors who prove that the cycle of violence can be broken.
  • Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons seeks to prevent trafficking and also fights practices such as Ukuthwala a form of abduction that involves kidnapping a girl or a young woman by a man and his friends or peers with the intention of compelling the girl or young woman’s family to agree into marriage.

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