Globally widespread violence against women of all classes appears to be the norm.
This situation is a clear and specific example of the violation of their basic human
rights. In South Africa, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 as
well as South Africa’s international commitments and obligations to end violence
against women and children, catalysed the adoption of the Domestic Violence Act
116 of 1998. It is, however, trite that the enactment of legislation is not always the
panacea to all social ills and in this case, domestic violence continues as a social
phenomenon in South Africa society, despite the introduction of law and policy to
curb its reach and subsequent effect on, particularly women.
Research supports the contention that the prevalence of domestic violence is due
to an interplay between different factors such as individual, community, economic,
cultural and religious factors occurring at different levels in the society. This
intersection of causality results in a societal phenomenon that is difficult to control
and reduce. Due to the rise in occurrence and consequences of domestic violence,
both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have declared violence
against women as a violation of human rights.
Although the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights has championed itself
as a foundation and powerful tool designed to fight all forms of oppression and
ensure human dignity, there has always been a constant struggle to ensure that all
human rights (civil, political, economic, social, and cultural) are equally guaranteed
to women. The human rights approach was thus used to explore the role of social services in
the promotion of human rights for women exposed to domestic violence. This
approach was useful because the White Paper for Social Welfare requires the
inclusion of a rights-based approach in the delivery of social services.
This qualitative research was exploratory and descriptive. The research was
applied, and a collective case study was used as a research design. Nonprobability
sampling was used to select a sample, and purposive sampling was
followed. A total number of 12 participants were interviewed via one-to-one semistructured
Empirical findings proved that the promotion of human rights through social
services is taking place in shelters for women exposed to domestic violence. Much
of this, however, results from the principles and values of the social work profession
and not from the practice of human rights in and of its own right. Thus, the full
comprehension and implementation of a human rights approach remain a
challenge at some shelters.
The researcher ultimately recommends that a human rights approach should be
adopted as a framework for guiding social services in this sector. A human rights
culture should gain popularity and not only be assimilated through its incorporation
within the values and principles of the social work profession. It should instead be
an approach that exists in and of its own right; although admittedly, it cannot be
divorced from the values and principles of the social work profession. Shelters
should also adopt a feminist approach to dealing robustly with societal factors that
lead to violence against women.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2019.