A policy brief on Intimate Partner Violence in South Africa

Dr Kate Joyner

South Africa has the highest rate of women killed by their intimate partner in the world despite various interventions such as the Sixteen Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children campaign each year from late November to mid-December. In fact, 17 years since its inception in 1998, fifty percent of the women murdered in South Africa are still killed by someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.

“Clearly, not enough is being done about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV),” says Dr Kate Joyner, an expert in gender-based violence nursing at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University (SU).

To raise awareness of this social phenomenon, Joyner and Drs Kate Rees and Simone Honikman from the University of Cape Town (UCT), compiled a policy brief on IPV for the Alan J Fisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH).

The CPMH is an initiative between researchers at SU and UCT to address important public mental health issues in low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. The CPMH policy briefs present summarised research findings and key policy recommendations on these issues.

“More specifically this document, entitled ‘A policy brief on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in South Africa: How to break the vicious cycle’, can be used to inform policy and standard operating procedures which are a requirement for sustained, quality implementation in practice,” says Joyner.

To date, IPV has largely been an area of chronic neglect within the Health and Social Development arenas and therefore the necessary care is mostly absent from clinical practice. “The document provides evidence of the burden of disease this problem poses nationally, and offers evidence-based recommendations and potential solutions,” says Joyner.

The intention is for senior officials within the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health to take the lead in integrating the suggestions into policy and practice. “The intersectoral focus will ensure a meaningful sharing of responsibilities as well as more effective outcomes,” Joyner explained. “We compiled the document for all personnel, from national, provincial and district management to frontline providers across the nation.”

Joyner hopes that public awareness about the extent of the problem of IPV, as well as how it impacts on health and development, will be improved.

“This document was a collaborative effort between the authors and our respective institutions,” says Joyner. The research was based on local and international literature and the authors’ empirical research in the clinical field.

Click here to download a copy of the Policy Brief (PDF document)

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