Understanding risk influences for sexual violence against women on a tertiary institution campus in South Africa.
Phungula, Primrose Gugulethu.
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This qualitative study focused on understanding risk influences for sexual violence against female students at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Westville Campus (formerly the University of Durban- Westville) in South Africa with the aim of suggesting intervention strategies for prevention. The participants of the study were male and female students at the University. One hour same gender focus group interviews were facilitated by trained Psychology Masters students of the institution in the afternoons after lectures. Interviews for the male groups were facilitated by males and female groups by females. Participants' responses were captured by tape recorders and then transcribed. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The factors that influence sexual violence on campus are discussed within the framework of the Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI).The emergent data of the current study suggested multiple influences for sexual violence within the three streams of influences of the TTI, namely, the intrapersonal, social context and cultural environmental streams of influence. It emerged that sexual violence was a problem on campus and most incidences were not reported to the University authorities. Participants in the current study also revealed a broader understanding of sexual violence than the current definition of rape. The majority of incidences of rape were reported to occur within the first few weeks of the academic year at parties meant to welcome new students. At intrapersonal level first year students' inability to adjust to University life, lack of assertiveness, misinterpretation of a woman's friendly behaviour by male as well as alcohol and drug abuse emerged as factors influencing sexual violence against women at the intrapersonallevel. At the social context level, peer influence among male and female students was found to be another contributing factor for sexual violence against women on campus. Depending on the group norms, male students would be pressured into being violent towards their partners. Female students were found to be pressurized into remaining in an abusive relationship. At the cultural! environmental level, participants revealed beliefs of men's superiority over women and these were reported to be brought about by socialization in society. Based on this study recommendations are made for possible interventions to prevent incidences of sexual violence against women in tertiary educational institutions in South Africa. These include orientation programmes for first year students that will assist them adjust to University lifestyle. Life skills education should be aimed at changing men's negative attitudes and aggressive behaviours as these have detrimental effects towards partners. Social events aimed at entertaining students should be closely monitored in order to eliminate every kind of unacceptable behaviour.