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Exploring the perceptions of Congolese migrant women in Durban towards the practice of preserving virginity before marriage.

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This study explored the perceptions of Congolese migrant women towards the practice of preserving virginity as a form of purity until marriage, by focusing on the opinions of Congolese migrant women living in Durban in South Africa. Virginity has social and significant legal implications in many societies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and women have responsibilities to protect their virginity in order not to be viewed by society as impure. In DRC, virginity purity before marriage is viewed as the key contributor to the true meaning of womanhood. Because of that, it is culturally expected that woman should not engage in premarital sex. Thus, a woman should enter into marriage as a virgin; she should “give up” her virginity to her husband in the act of consummating the marriage. The aim of this study was to determine whether Congolese migrant women living in South Africa, specifically in Durban, continue to engage in the practice of virginity preservation before marriage as they are now immersed in a new and different society than that of DRC. Also, the study sought to explore how Congolese migrant women view the practice of keeping virginity as a form of purity before marriage. That is, do the migrant women reinforce or resist this culture while being in a foreign land, relative to being in the DRC? In order to answer these key questions and address the objectives, the study used the qualitative research method. This method was chosen because it seemed to be the most appropriate to describe how the changes among Congolese women could possibly affect their perceptions of culture. The study used interviews and focus groups as its research instruments for gathering data from the sample size of 18 Congolese migrant women who reside in Durban. The findings of this study indicate that most Congolese found it difficult to maintain the gendered practice of preserving virginity before marriage as recommended in their culture and this could be attributed to mixture of cultures in their new environment. Therefore, Congolese migrant ;women in particular need to be educated on how to protect themselves and stay safe from the danger of STIs and HIV/AIDS.


Master of Arts in Gender Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2017.