Violence against women in South Africa: Perspectives from a mental health context

Author Zareena Parker

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: Clinical psychologist, Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital; Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town.
Source: Acta Juridica, 2020, p. 287 – 311


Violence against women and children remains a pervasive human rights violation in South Africa, despite laws and policies aimed at preventing violence and advocating for the protection of the rights and dignity of women. The impact of violence on South African society and on womens mental health and quality of life is significantly encountered in mental health contexts where many women present for psychiatric and psychological treatment. This discursive article presents a mental health practitioners perspective and highlights experiences of working therapeutically with female victim-survivors of violence in a psychiatric hospital in the Western Cape. I argue for greater intersectoral collaboration and responsive partnerships between mental health services, non-governmental organisations, legal centres, the criminal justice system and civil society. Further recommendations are made to challenge discriminatory practices and attitudes, and to strengthen violence prevention initiatives to enable the empowerment and safety of women in South African society.