Authors: Malose Langa


Nonhlanhla Sibanda-Moyo, Eleanor Khonje, Maame Kyerewaa Brobbey


Violence aganst women in South Africa : A country in crisis


Executive Summary:

In South Africa, a country scarred by the history of apartheid, violence against women (VAW) is endemic. Statistics on femicide, rape and domestic violence demonstrate unprecedented prevalence rates. According to South Africa’s 2016 Demographic and Health Survey, one in five women older than 18 has experienced physical violence. This figure is reportedly higher in the poorest households, where at least one in three women has reported physical violence. A 2009 Medical Research Council study reported that three women die at the hands of their intimate partner every day. This femicide rate is five times more than the global average.

The rate of sexual violence is also one of the highest in the world. The country is characterised by a strong legislative and policy-enabling environment aligned with international conventions that seek to protect and promote the rights of women. At the same time, a comprehensive set of government programmes and dynamic civil society organisations (CSOs) are providing essential services to women.

Yet, despite the myriad of legal protections and interventions by state and non-state actors, women in South Africa continue to experience extremely high rates of violence. This raises human security concerns for women particularly and for the country at large. It also begs the question of why VAW persists in South Africa, and what needs to be done to address it.

Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’

Full Citation:

Sishuba, Yanelisa, Sindiswa Nunu, Nompumelelo Njana, Agnes Ngxukuma, Brian Mphahlele and Jasmina Brankovic. 2017. Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’. Cape Town: Khulumani Support Group Western Cape and Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.


In 2015-2016, the apartheid survivors’ organisation Khulumani Support Group in the Western Cape (KSGWC) and its partner the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) set out to explore new ways for a victims’ group and a nongovernmental organisation to work together on addressing socioeconomic exclusion in the context of political transition. Seeking to deepen their levels of collaboration, to foreground the knowledge and solutions of KSGWC members and to leave KSGWC with concrete outcomes beyond a research publication, the partners decided to use the participatory action research methodology in studying KSGWC members’ understandings of how inequality and poverty drive violence in post-apartheid South Africa. They found that social transformation in the present requires redress for abuses in the past. This report outlines the process of designing and implementing the project, from project development and fundraising, to data collection and collaborative writing up of research findings, and finally to strategic planning, tailored trainings and KSGWC’s development of a five-year plan and a new advocacy project. It reflects on the challenges and benefits of the participatory approach and offers some ‘lessons learnt’ for practitioners designing a similar project, particularly when working with members of social movements and victims’ groups on complex and sensitive topics.