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Examining the effectiveness of prevention programmes being implemented to address the needs of women experiencing intimate partner violence in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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As with other nations, South Africa still contends with women’s subordination in society which leaves them vulnerable to many forms of violation. Existing literature claims that while policy and legislative frameworks exist to eradicate intimate partner violence (IPV) in all spheres of life, women continue to endure abuse in their private lives. Intervention programmes adopted across the globe and at the national level to address the problem have been too limited in systemically addressing IPV. Based on this foundation, this study, located in the interpretivist paradigm, investigated the effectiveness of programmes being implemented to address the needs of women experiencing IPV in Msinga, a rural area within the uMzinyathi District Municipality in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study employed a qualitative research design. The data collection methods included indepth individual interviews and two focus group discussions. Purposive sampling was used to select 40 individual interview participants. The first set of interviews and the first focus group discussion were with the key informants (members of staff) from the organisations that were identified as dealing with cases of IPV in Msinga. The second set of interviews and second focus group discussion were held with 32 women survivors of IPV in Msinga. Both in-deth indivual interviews and focus groups discussions examined the effectiveness of the IPV programmes implemented in Msinga. The post-structural feminist theory and the socio-ecological model were used as the theoretical framework to inform the study. Informed by this framework, findings revealed that the intersectionality of gender, race, class and ethnicity leave women from poor socio-economic upbringing more vulnerable to IPV. Henceforth, IPV unfolds in an explicit context whereby layers of disadvantage preserve women in a deprivation trap, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty. This observation echoes that women’s everyday realities are context-specific. Against this background, the findings conclude that women’s lived experiences influence how they construct the factors that perpetuate IPV in their relationships. Additionally, it was discovered that in most occurrences the emotional and physical abuse of women are interwoven and that a patriarchal system (yet again) perpatrate the oppression of women. Findings suggest that structural inequalities and the socialisation of women in Msinga contribute to individual and societal acceptance of IPV, consequently perpetuating the subordination of women. While existing measures such as shelters for abused women provide protection, they are unable to address the structural and systemic nature of IPV. Thus, women in rural areas who experience IPV lack long-term support that is presented in a transformative and sustainable manner. To promote effective IPV intervention, it is recommended that prevention programmes need to occur at three levels: 1) At a primary prevention level. This is critical in preventing IPV in that it intervenes with individuals, families and communities in ways that stop the perpetuation of violent behaviours. 2) At a secondary intervention level. This provides victims with information and services thereby mitigating the consequences of exposures to violence. 3) At a tertiary intervention level. This is concerned with reducing the long-term negative effects of violence. Merging primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies would be best particularly in communities or families that are already characterised by violence.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.