Men who experience abuse as children are more likely to abuse women, according to a study by the University of the Witwatersrand and Sonke Gender Justice, released on Monday.
Men who were abused as children were five times more likely than their counterparts who were not abused to use violence against women.
The study was conducted among 2 600 men in Diepsloot, northern Johannesburg, aged between 18 and 40, as part of the Sonke Change Trial.
The majority lived in a shack or single room and earned an average monthly income of R1 500. Half of them had been employed in the past three months.
Less than half of the men had finished high school and nearly half did not have enough food.
According to the study, the majority of men interviewed had experienced at least one type of physical or sexual abuse as children.
"More than one-third had been raped or molested as a child, and more than half of the men experienced one or more adult traumas such as witnessing a rape or murder or being tortured, raped, or robbed at gunpoint."
More than half (56%) of the men interviewed said they had either raped or beaten a woman in the last 12 months.
The study revealed that 60% committed multiple acts of violence against women during that period.
"One-third of men believe that wives should not be able to refuse sex. More than half expect their partner to agree to sex when the man wants it, and a majority of men control the clothes a woman wears, the friends she sees, or where she goes."
Children exposed to violence at home and in their community are far more likely to become involved in violence later in life, with boys as the perpetrators and girls the victims.
Predictably, problem drinking increased the use of recent violence by 50%.
Three-quarters of men reported problem drinking — binge or frequent drinking that interfered with their daily lives.
"A preliminary social audit of the project sites in Diepsloot revealed approximately 63 formally registered taverns, and more than twice as many illegal taverns.
"Services for survivors of violence in Diepsloot remain few and far between, and are mostly provided by NGOs who often struggle to access reliable funding from the Department of Social Development."
There was no post-rape care in Diepsloot. The nearest Thuthuzela Care Centre was at Tembisa Hospital, about 30km away.
Rape victims were forced to travel long distances to access post-rape care or to attend court cases, it said.
According to police reports, of the 500 sexual assault cases reported in Diepsloot since 2013, there had been just one conviction.