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Life stories: ethnographic portraits of migrant women challenging gender based violence in South Africa(Durban).

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Gender-based violence (GBV) is not a new problem –nor is it unique to South Africa. However, the problem is profound and widespread in South Africa, a violent society. South Africa is the regional economic powerhouse, a status that culminates in a huge influx of foreign nationals converging in a centripetal pattern from across the globe in search of the proverbial greener pastures. Multiple waves of violent xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, coupled with intimate femicide, which is five times the global average, bear testimony to the prevalence of violence in South Africa. GBV is a prevalent phenomenon in societies characterised by a culture of violence, and normalised male dominance. Migrant women living in KwaZulu-Natal endure a double burden of being foreign nationals, which exacerbates their exposure to xenophobia and that of GBV in general. GBV is therefore systemic, and deeply engrained in social institutions, cultures and traditions that exist in contemporary society. Exploring the contours of GBV, this study provided nuanced reflections on the lived experiences of female migrants in Durban and how the women in this study challenged GBV. The study adopted a qualitative approach located within the interpretivist paradigm. Data were collected using in-depth interviews with 15 purposively selected participants. The researcher adopted Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis model to process the data into meaningful themes. Cultural Hegemony theory, Conflict theory, Social Ecological theory and Feminist theories served as the analytical lens for this study. The findings indicated that migrant women’s experiences of GBV were mainly drawn from their experiences of xenophobia among other intricate variants to this cause. Migrant women experiences of GBV were identified to have a connection on the their quest for survival leading to them abusing their bodies. The study elicited three themes (n=3), which were presented in three sequential chapters of this doctoral thesis (Chapter 6-8).


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.