The Worrying Picture of GBV in SA

While it is sadly the case that all societies suffer a level of gender-based violence, South Africa is one of the worst-affected countries in the world.

The information below is based on the number of incidents reported, however, it is believed that most incidents are not reported – in other words the situation is far worse than what is reported. 

Terms you should know:

Violence Against Women and Girls: VAWG

GBV: Gender-Based Violence

IPV: Intimate partner violence

SV: Sexual violence

LGBT: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (the terms LGBTQ is sometimes used where the Q can stand for “questioning” or “queer” – a once bad term used to describe gay people which has now been reclaimed).

Emotional abuse: Non-physical but equally damaging abuse in which name-calling, making a person feel worthless, verbal abuse, isolation, financial restriction and threats (among others) are  made  to make a person feel worthless, 

Economic abuse: One intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim’s capacity to support themselves and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.

Did you know?

According to Interpol, SA has the highest rates of reported rape cases in the world (about 50 000 cases a year). 

Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a women.

IPV is between the 10th and 12th reason for women dying every year.

Six women are killed per day in SA of which three are killed by their partners.

While people of all genders commit and experience IPV and sexual violence, men are most often the abusers and women and children are most often the victims.

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.

Non-partner SV is particularly common, but reporting to police is very low (one in 13 according to a study with only one in 25 rapes reported).

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.

While the figures tell a frightening story they still do not share the full picture of the crisis SA faces. The importance of tackling violence in our country is more important than ever. 

If you know someone committing GBV, report them to the police and let their victim know that you are there to support them.  


For more information, support and advice feel free to reach out to us on:

TOLL-FREE NUMBER: 0800 000 408


SMS or send a please call me: 083 450 0508

Sources: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town,, Interpol and Stats SA