Living in security, peace and dignity: The right to have access to housing of women who are victims of gender-based violence

Socio-Economic Rights Project Research Series 5, 2009. This research paper by Heléne Combrinck examines the nature and extent of state duties to promote the realisation of the right to have access to adequate housing of women who are victims of gender-based violence, with specific reference to domestic violence. The paper first sketches the background to domestic violence and housing in South Africa generally and explains the housing needs of women experiencing domestic violence as well as the link between domestic violence and forced evictions. It then examines constitutional obligations to promote access to housing, with reference to the Grootboom and subsequent judgments. The paper further sets out the legislative and policy framework supporting access to housing in South Africa and examines whether this framework currently makes adequate provision for women who are victims of domestic violence. Though the focus is on South Africa, the paper also looks at the standards and norms that have emerged in international human rights law, with specific reference to the rights to adequate housing, gender equality and freedom from violence. Finally, the paper proposes certain recommendations based on the conclusions reached.