In December 1999, the new South African Domestic Violence Act came into effect. The new Act has opted for a broader definition of both “abuse” and “domestic relations” which include all cohabiting adults, whether sexually involved or family members such as parents of a child, or the children of elderly or infirm parents. The list defining “abuse” is open-ended, including economic abuse, stalking, harassment, damage to property and unauthorized entry to residence. Elderly people, for instance, are now able to obtain protection against physical and financial abuse from children, whether they are living together or not. However, the Act cannot be enforced without the State committing sufficient resources, such as the provision of shelters for abused women. In addition, an enormous shortage of resources such as trained staff, and transport threatens the enforcement of the Act.
This month is Women’s Month in South Africa. And one of the major issues for women there, is domestic violence. It is global problem but as Rosie Garthwaite reports from Johannesburg, it’s particularly bad in South Africa. Al Jazeera – English reports.