The interrelationships of violence - from the transnational to the domestic. Experiences of refugee women in Cape Town
Wanka, Ngwetoh Nchangmum
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Although gender-based violence has been identified as highly problematic in South Africa, it has not been given much scholarly attention in relation to refugee women. This study focuses on the experience of some of these women who have resettled in Cape Town. The main focus is on gender-based violence and the linkages between conflicts at home, fleeing from it, as well as the problems faced by women when they reach the 'new' country where they are suppose to be safe, but yet continue to experience gender violence. By referring to my own empirical research I try to tease out the many instances of violence and abuse such women face, how they understand and try to make sense of it and how they try to take up their lives in Cape Town. I utilized the much used ecological framework to analyze gender-based violence and argue that, while this 'model' is dynamic and allows one to make analytical linkages across different 'levels' of violence, it nevertheless does not adequately provide for understanding the relationship between larger global and international processes, the connection that women may still have with their countries of origin and the impact of being a refugee or unwanted 'immigrant' in South Africa. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and participant observation. The participants were 25 and a descriptive analysis indicated that three quarter of the women have in one way or the other been abused by their husbands/partners. The findings also indicated that refugee/forced immigrant women just like any other woman in South Africa do encounter gender-based violence but other factors beyond their control has exacerbated it’s occurrence amongst them. Thus, the findings were based on ethnographic research that analyzed how forced immigrant/refugee women talk about gender-based violence.
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