The life and experiences of young women (19-35 years) living on the streets of Pietermaritzburg CBD and surroundings.
Zondi, Lungile Prudence.
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Little was known about the life and experiences of young women (19-35 years) living on the streets of the Pietermaritzburg CBD and surroundings in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa prior to this study. In order to investigate this subject, a combination of qualitative research (by means of the life history method through the use of in-depth interviews, focus group discussion and direct observations as data collection methods) and four theoretical frameworks (being the African Feminist theory, the Vulnerability Model, the Social Identity theory and the Social Network theory) were used. Collected narratives relating to streetism which were anthropologically recorded contribute to this study and overall, to the existing body of knowledge. This thesis contributes to the existing literature that a myriad of factors such as ancestral calling, food poisoning, whoonga/nyaope addiction (side effects comes with not having a monthly menstrual cycle as well as stomach pains called roosta), self-defence, forced/arranged/early-marriages, food distribution and corporal punishment, grandmother and big brother headed families, family connections on the street as well as hereditary recurrences are push and pull factors that has led the twenty (20) young women to the street. These push and pull factors validate that street-related reasons are homogenous and they need to be contextually studied. The study also finds that these women possess obscured and misconstrued identities that comes with living on the street and they actively use fending strategies for survival. Fending strategies include, hourly prostitution, standing on the road intersections and working as car-guards during the day and night. I argue that their vulnerability context includes being treated less of human being, smuggling whoonga/nyaope, unpaid prostitution, being beaten up by law enforcers and the death of their friends while sleeping. Despite such, the study finds that they are sceptical about being reunited to their families. Street groups/networks are influenced by prison life as they appear on the streets as either the 26’s or the 28’s and that such groups shape their identity as well as the language that they speak on the streets. Research recommendations as well as responsive interventions that policy custodians can embark on based on other African countries are part of the content of this thesis.