South Africa has Highest Rate of Spousal Killings

A new study reports that South Africa has one of the highest rates of “intimate femicides” ever recorded, with an average of four women killed by a domestic partner every day. The report was based on 1999 data collected by the Medical Research Council, University of Cape Town and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Women of mixed race were most at risk of violent death at the hands of a spouse, reports CNN, and less than 40 percent of all intimate femicides in the country led to a criminal conviction. Furthermore, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that the court dockets relating to intimate femicides were largely missing in several provinces. The study pointed to gun ownership and alcohol as factors in the deaths, also noting that perpetrators were most often blue collar, farm or security workers. Two-thirds of the women studied were killed with a legally owned gun, according to a press release from the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC).

Murder-suicides were also more common than in other nations, with one in five men killing himself after killing his partner. The study found that murder-suicides were most likely to occur in instances when the female partner wanted to leave the relationship, prompting Shanaaz Mathews of MRC’s Gender and Health Research Unit to say that “it is only once men no longer see a woman as their possession that we will be able to reduce the number of women who are killed by their partners.”


CNN 5/25/05; Daily Telegraph 5/24/05; Medical Research Council of South Africa Press Release 5/26/05; South African Broadcasting Corporation 5/20/05

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