[REPORT] South African domestic workers’ vulnerabilities to (and experience of) GBV in the workplace
The levels of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa remain alarming, and significantly impact
women’s lives. Women at the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder are most vulnerable, and
least likely to report, various forms of GBV. They are thus unlikely to receive justice.
Although research has documented GBV in South Africa well, there remain some groups at the margin, one
of which is domestic worker (DW)s. Currently it is estimated that over 90% of DWs are women. A significant
number of them are foreign migrants, some undocumented. The probability of being treated unfairly from
a labour rights perspective is obvious; the types of violence have not been sufficiently documented and
insufficient interventions implemented. The incidences documented in this report are heart-breaking and
reveal alarming levels of impunity by both employers and law enforcement agencies.
Although using a small sample size, this research report seeks to amplify the voices of DWs in the GBV
discourse – to characterise the nature of GBV and sexual harassment they experience, and to explore how
GBV services could become more accessible to them. Lastly this report will be a valuable resource for
organisations and movement aiming to shape programmes that address GBV among vulnerable workers
such as DWs.
All of the above points towards a need to dedicate resources to address the nuances of GBV in the domestic
Collaborations, such as this one, are important work for feminist movement building and inclusiveness. It is
our hope that as the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide is implemented, such
research contributes to no women left behind in the various interventions.