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Assess the existing local and national policy context

Last edited: February 21, 2019

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Local, provincial/regional and national policy and legislation will also determine the nature of a coordinated response.  The legal and policy context should be surveyed to determine the existing level of coordination and the level of support for coordination. This process is sometimes referred to as a ‘policy scan’ (Rasool et al., 2002). For example, there may already be a national government strategy or action plan dedicated to addressing violence against women, gender equality or other relevant issues that take violence against women into account.  Individual government departments or institutions may also have plans, policies or protocols for addressing specific forms or aspects of violence against women in connection with other issues they are responsible for, such as health, education, safety or development.

Policy scans should also include international and regional agreements related to ending discrimination and violence against women and girls that States have adopted, such as CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Istanbul Convention, the Maputo Protocol and the Inter-American Convention on Violence Against Women.  Government obligations to comply with these treaties can be leveraged to prompt greater political commitment and action to end violence against women. 


Policy Scan on violence against women – South Africa

A policy scan was conducted in South Africa as part of a national study on violence against women.  The scan included key international policy instruments, as well as national policy documents from the departments responsible for law enforcement, health and welfare.  The aim of the scan was to describe the broader context surrounding women’s experience of violence and service delivery.  Policies surveyed in the scan included:

  • International conventions on violence against women such as CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action;
  • Department of Justice:
    • Gender policy;
    • National policy guidelines for Victims of Sexual Offences 1997;
    • Justice Vision 2000 (with indicators on sexual offences);
    • Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998;
    • Minimum sentencing legislation; and
    • Sexual Offences Bill (1999).
  • Department of Safety and Security:
    • National Crime Prevention Strategy 1996 (with violence against women included under safety as a basic need);
    • Policing Priorities and Objectives for 1999/2000.
  • Department of Social Development:
    • Ten priorities (violence against women was identified as one of the 10 priority areas);
    • Victim Empowerment Programme.

See Rasool, S., Vermaak, K., Pharoah, R., Louw, A. and Stavrou, A. (2002) Violence Against Women: A National Survey, Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, in English.

Note: South Africa now has a National Action Plan to End Gender Violence, introduced in 2007, which would form part of a current policy scan.


Framing the activities of the coordinated response in terms of particular policy initiatives may create access to funding.  Relevant policy documents, national and international guidelines, and national action plans may mandate local, provincial and national governments to provide effective services and protection to victims/survivors of violence. These provisions may be a basis for advocating for change and/or resources, and for garnering support and participation at decentralised levels.

Tools and resources

Getting It Right! A Practical Guide to Evaluating and Improving Health Services for Women Victims/survivors of Sexual Violence (Troncoso, E., Billings, D., Ortiz, O. and Cuautli Suárez, C., 2006), Chapel Hill, NC: Ipas, available in English, Spanish.  This guide includes a tool designed to assess current legal and policy frameworks relevant to the treatment of victims/survivors of sexual violence.