Position Statements

Violence against women: domestic violence

Throughout the world both men and women suffer from violence. Domestic violence affects mainly women, perpetrated mainly be men. In this setting the assailant is usually known to the victim. Despite this the first act is very seldom reported to anybody. Health workers may be the first "outsiders" to notice evidence of domestic violence. The victim, community groups and even health workers have reluctance to take action against violence committed in the home. Worldwide figures of domestic violence are given as reaching from 20% to as high as 50% of women having been assaulted by an intimate male partner. In South Africa the situation is not different.

A common thread exists in the majority of cases of domestic violence: where the social status of the woman is low she is regarded as the "property" of the man and it then becomes acceptable to exercise control including physical force over women. Battering can be physical, sexual, physiological and economical. Battered women have an increased risk of depression, suicide and psychiatric complaints.

SASOG rejects any form of violence against women. SASOG also supports discussion of this matter at all levels of health care, and urges members and other health workers to be sensitive towards detecting signs or complaints of domestic violence, and to support, refer and treat cases of domestic violence. SASOG urges the community to have respect for women and to award women their real position as mothers in the communities.

Prepared by Dr Fred Hayward and Dr Uta Irsigler.
Edited by Prof Gerhard Lindeque.
August 2001