BY NICO GOUS
Almost as many South African men and women believe it is acceptable to hit a woman.
This is one of the shock findings of the “Crime against women in South Africa” report released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.
According to the estimates of the survey‚ 3.3% of men and 2.3% of women say it is acceptable for a man to hit a woman. The report was based on data from Stats SA’s latest Victims of Crime Survey‚ and some data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The highest percentage of individuals thought it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman if she argues with him‚ and the lowest percentage of individuals thought it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman if she burns food‚” the report found.
“Neglecting the children and arguing with the husband are considered by both men and women to be the most serious issue.”
The report said it is “fair to conclude” it was impossible to eliminate violence against women when some women believe it to be acceptable.
“Attitudes and perceptions play a very important role in shaping human behaviour‚ including criminal activity and vulnerability to crime‚” the report states.
Stats SA added‚ however, that it was at least encouraging to see these numbers were small and falling.
The report also found that the murder rates of men and women declined between 2000 and 2015‚ but the murder rate for women more than doubled (117%) between 2015 and 2016/17.
Women who experienced sexual offences jumped from 31‚665 in 2015/16 to 70‚813 in 2016/17.
Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said the evidence in the report shows that the fear of crime stops women from taking part in some economic activities.
Women felt they could not express their sexual orientation or walk to fetch firewood or water. Men experience the same fears‚ but women felt it more acutely.
“Women felt more unsafe than men walking in their neighbourhoods alone both during the day and when it is dark.”
A third of the population fear going to open spaces and parks and more than half of women (54%) felt unsafe walking alone in the dark‚ the report found.
“The difference between women and men is more significant in rural areas‚ affecting activities of keeping livestock/poultry in kraals and walking to fetch wood or water.”