South African women top the list of heavy-drinking females in Africa, but alcohol abuse globally is in decline, according to a World Health Organisation report.
The report analysed drinking patterns worldwide and revealed that 41.2% of South African women were binge drinkers.
It said South African women drank an average of 60ml of alcohol a week.
The statistics cut across all social classes.
A WHO report last year said pregnant women in poor communities, particularly in the Eastern Cape, abused alcohol with the intention of harming the foetus so that they could claim higher social welfare payments.
But the new report said the global economic recession had led to fewer drinkers.
Abuse of alcohol was the main cause of violence in low-income communities, the report said.
”Binge drinking has become less frequent and [the] proportion of young people who don’t drink has risen sharply,” said lead researcher Jonathan Shepherd.
When it came to heavy drinking by women, South Africa was tied at the top with Zambia.
Other African countries in the women’s league top six are Burkina Faso (36.8%), Mozambique (32.8%), Nigeria (32.9%) and Zimbabwe (20.3%).
South African men are the seventh-heaviest drinkers in Africa .