Discursive constructions of gender-based violence and safe sex practices among female residence students at UKZN.
Gordon, Sarah Frances.
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Gender-based violence and the risk of HIV infection are some of the social problems facing women in South Africa. The emergence of gender-based violence as a prominent challenge facing the University of KwaZulu-Natal community led to the impetus for a qualitative study which focuses specifically on female UKZN residence students on Howard College Campus. A social constructionist approach was used to explore how female UKZN residence students understand and experience gender-based violence and safe sex practices. Unstructured interviews were conducted with twelve female residence students and interview texts were analysed using discourse analysis. The findings revealed the difficulties women experience in negotiating safe sex and how gender-based violence is facilitated through a system of discourses which reproduce patriarchal power relations. This research shines a light on the prevalence of gender-based violence in South Africa and the far reaching impact it has on the lives of women. The fear of gender-based violence is a continuous presence in the lives of these women and this research demonstrates how one does not have to be a victim of gender-based violence to experience the trauma and anxiety surrounding this violence. Hopefully this research will culminate in policy and interventions aimed at improving the lives of female students at UKZN.