Domestic violence in South Africa


South Africa’s response to domestic violence is of relatively recent origin, with 1993 marking both the introduction of the first legal remedy to address domestic violence, and the recognition of marital rape as a crime. This first attempt to deal with domestic violence through legislation, namely the Prevention of Family Violence Act, was further developed and strengthened through the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 (DVA), which is widely considered one of the more progressive examples of such legislation internationally. This policy brief describes the extent and nature of domestic violence in South Africa and considers aspects of the implementation of the DVA, the state’s most prominent intervention in the problem of domestic violence.

About the author

Lisa Vetten has spent over 20 years working in the field of violence against women. She is currently a research associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) where her research focuses on the criminal justice system, post-rape care and the role of the state in addressing violence against women.

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