South Africans weigh in on attitudes towards Women

With the focus on Women during August, the demonstrations in Cape Town at the same time as the WEF conference on Africa and the attention in the media the last few weeks on incidents of gender-based violence, Ipsos examines the diverse opinions that South Africans have towards issues of women’s place in marital relations as well as violence towards women

The author(s)

  • Mari Harris Public Affairs Director
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With the focus on Women during August, the demonstrations in Cape Town at the same time as the WEF conference on Africa and the attention in the media the last few weeks on incidents of gender-based violence, Ipsos examines the diverse opinions that South Africans have towards issues of women’s place in marital relations as well as violence towards women.

 

The relationship between a woman and her husband/partner is the closest and most trusted that a woman should have in her life. 

 

So, how do South Africans feel about the dynamics between man and wife and is it necessary for a woman to “obey” her partner or husband?

 

There is very little difference in the country about this issue, with the majority - more than six in every ten (63%) - believing that a woman should obey her husband or partner. This illustrates a deep-seated paternalism and conservative view in our society, seeing a woman as a possession rather than an individual in her own right.

 

There is not a significant difference in female and male opinions on the issue – but slightly more females than males agree with the statement.

 

 

I believe that a woman must obey her partner or husband – Sex

 

 

Total %

Male %

Female  %

Agree

63

62

64

Neither

16

14

18

Disagree

14

14

14

DK

7

10

4

 

Younger people are slightly less likely to agree, with 51% of the 15 - 17 year old population agreeing with this, compared to higher proportions of older people.   

 

 

 

I believe that a woman must obey her partner or husband - Age

 

 

 

Total

%

15-17 %

18-24 %

25-34 %

35-49 %

50+ %

Agree

63

51

61

64

65

63

Neither

16

10

17

16

16

15

Disagree

14

9

14

15

14

13

DK

7

30

8

5

5

9

 

Looking at the opinions held by different population groups, whites and Indians are also less likely to agree, but overall agreement is still very high.

 

I believe that a woman must obey her partner or husband - Age

 

 

 

 

Total

%

Black

%

White

%

Coloured

%

Indian

%

Agree

63

65

55

61

58

Neither

16

15

21

17

16

Disagree

14

13

15

19

23

DK

7

7

9

3

3

               

 

Social norms and community values are important when looking at why these opinions still pervade and to this end, Ipsos also explored the opinions of partners, family and the community.

 

 

My partner believes that a woman must obey her partner or husband

 

 

Total

Males

Females

Agree

62

61

63

Neither

16

14

17

Disagree

14

14

14

DK

8

11

6

 

 

 

 

 

My family believes that a woman must obey her partner or husband

 

 

Total

Males

Females

Agree

63

63

63

Neither

15

14

16

Disagree

13

12

14

DK

9

11

7

 

My community believes that a woman must obey her partner or husband

 

 

Total

Males

Females

Agree

57

57

58

Neither

16

15

16

Disagree

15

15

15

DK

12

13

11

 

 

With the high incidence of domestic violence and abuse happening in our society, Ipsos has also examined South African opinions about whether husbands have the right to physically attack his partner.

 

The majority (78%) do not agree with this opinion! Levels of disagreement are highest when thinking about themselves as individuals but decrease when it comes to their opinion of what the community thinks.

 

However, the levels of agreement that physical abuse is acceptable are still alarmingly high and at least one in every ten South Africans find this acceptable.  Is it then strange that physical abuse of women is so prevalent in our country?

 

 

 

 

Agree

Neither

Disagree

Don’t know

I believe that a man has the right to hit his partner or wife

12

7

78

5

My partner believes that a man has the right to hit his partner or wife

10

7

77

6

My family believes that a man has the right to hit his partner or wife

11

6

77

6

 

My community believes that a man has the right to hit his partner or wife

 

12

8

73

7

 

 

 

 

TECHNICAL DETAIL.

 

  • Fieldwork: 22 March – 17 April 2019
  • 3600 in-home face-to-face interviews. Conducted in home languages of randomly selected respondents
  • Countrywide representation
  • Results weighted and projected to official population figures
  • The margin of error for this study is between 0.75% and 1.65%, depending on sample size, response rate and sampling methodology

The author(s)

  • Mari Harris Public Affairs Director

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