South Africa ranks second in the WPS Index for Sub-Saharan Africa, while revealing major unevenness in performance. Overall levels of achievement in inclusion are high relative to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, most notable in women’s education and parliamentary representation. While there have been meaningful advances on the inclusion and justice fronts, the security of women lags—with especially low levels of perceptions of community safety. Fewer than 3 in 10 women feel safe walking in their community at night (the regional average is about 5 in 10). The national rate of intimate partner violence (25 percent) in the WPS Index is drawn from a 1998 regional survey of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Eastern Cape. Other regional studies have found even higher lifetime rates (GenderLinks for Equality and Justice 2015). Implementation of the 1998 Domestic Violence Act has been limited, including the failure of police to record cases, provide victim-friendly rooms at police posts, and convey appropriate information to victims, all of which in turn reduce the chances of successful prosecution (Africa Check 2016).
One promising initiative to change gender norms in South Africa has been the Soul City Program, a multimedia health promotion and social change project. Beginning in 1994 and using drama and entertainment, Soul City has reached more than 80 percent of South Africa’s population and helped draw attention to domestic violence and raise awareness of key social services (Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication 2016). The program also seeks to increase participation and community action and to empower women to negotiate relationships and safer sex.