Date of Meeting: 13 March 2017

Meeting Organizer: Heinrich Boell Foundation Southern Africa

CSW Delegates present: Anne Makumi, Anne Gregora, Heather Grinsted

Reporter: Anne Makumi

Which SDG does this topic cover? 5

Type of meeting: CSW Parallel Event

Brief summary of presentation of information made

This is about research on domestic violence undertaken in a few provinces in South Africa.

Opening remarks of the chair of the session: ‘Here in New York in our apartment last night there were noises suggesting to some form of violence-male and female. It is unbelievable that as we reviewed our presentations for this session, we were faced with thoughts on whether to call 911 and the reality of violence all over the world.’

South Africa has been a democratic country since 1994 and has ‘one of the best constitutions in the world’ - with laws to protect against gender based violence, to encourage participation of women in parliament, so a lot of advances in uplifting women - but still confronted with the same high statistics on femicide and violence against women. 

HBF has undertaken a research project on the State provision for shelter for abused women.

Background: Sometimes there is a narrow concept/view on shelters as they only accommodate, provide food then release them without any empowerment. However reliable reports have shown that:

  • Inadequate state support to shelters affects the sustainability of their programs.
  • There is also considerable economic dependencies on partners-54% in this project, that increases vulnerabilities to domestic violence.
  • Programmatic reporting by Police; i.e. domestic violence can fall into more than 4-5 categories of Crime and therefore prosecution depends on how it is categorised.
  • Underreporting of abuse instances.
  • A woman is killed every 8hrs in SA; 3 women every day.
  • Violence impacts on the economy: 0.9%-1.3% of South Africa GDP is needed to provide care for abused women.

Preliminary findings of research

There is a gap in legislation over who provides funds for the women referred to the shelter. Further, the helpline for violence managed by the police is mostly poorly managed on how to handle victims who call looking for help. However it was found that there are minimum norms and standards of kind of services to be provided by shelters available.

Case file findings: profile of women

  • 20-35 years of age and most came with children.
  • Limited education; only a third had completed primary education.
  • Majority were unemployed.
  • They had no access for child care grants.
  • Significant health and psychological needs-broken arms, depression, post-traumatic stress, HIV, reproductive issues, substance abuse.
  • Had lots of legal needs-protection orders, divorce, identity documents application.

Other findings

  • Sheltering can be preventative of violence in the long term.
  • Provides an opportunity for skills development.
  • Provides housing for victim and children.
  • Provinces:
    • Western Cape - only 10% of the victims return to their partners & 36% of the rest get other shelter.
    • Mpumalanga - little skills development & 20% return to their partners.
  • State funding:
    • Insufficient generally: 10% of the state budget is allocated toward social services development; 1-2% to victim empowerment program and only a third of this goes to shelters. 
    • Shelters’ services vary from one shelter to another. In some shelters the government provides funding at a unit rated per woman which is inadequate; approximately $4 per woman per day in some, in another about $6 per woman per day. Other kinds of funding are also available for shelter running costs such as staff workers’ salaries, but meagre salary funding provision e.g. salary for a social worker at $94 a month.
    • Government and non-government shelters-have varied service provision but government shelters mainly experience a lack of staff capacity.
  • Poor children therapy support
  • Lack of skills development
  • Time at the shelter beyond the recommended time doesn’t attracts state funding


  • Partnership with several government departments which therefore attracts more funding from each of the departments such as the Kusoleka* model. 
  • Advocacy required.
  • Department of Home Affairs could help in provision of identity documents.
  • Multi-department response has a better effective approach.
  • Partnering with various organisations and departments.


What programs other than economic empowerment-knitting & beading/participation like programs have been used that have been successful/sustainable?

Contract employment following skills gained but depended on the shelter, province/area.

Any partnerships that have helped with this?

Suggestions around partnering with men for effective programs.

Why do women return to their partners and do the children go back with the mothers? 

Economic dependency, cultural issues-women not allowed to work, giving the partner a second chance, children factor, stigma. There are cases where women call the police on their partners on Friday evening and drop the charges on Monday morning to avoid the ‘weekend’ situation -alcohol, violence, etc..

Refugee and migrant women, are they allowed into shelters?

Everyone has a right but handled on a case-by-case basis - some take more at the shelter than others.

Time period, persons, specifics of project?

228 women & 312 children in a year in two provinces, 44 women traced after leaving shelter. See below link for more reports.

How are medication needs of the women addressed-especially Antiretroviral drugs?

Shelters work closely with hospitals and are able to access care but access to therapeutic support e.g. psychological support.

Would the ‘get rid of perpetrator as opposed to the victim’ approach work in South Africa?

Would be excellent kind of approach but requires an eviction order and other legal implications.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

There is need for more evidence based research/information on sustainable livelihoods for victims in Salvation Army shelters for ‘after the shelter’ period besides the usual ‘for charity’ beadwork and knitting.

Web links for more information

Tags: United Nations, Women, SDG5: Gender Equality