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Perceptions of female students with physical disabilities at the Pietermaritzburg campus of University of KwaZulu-Natal towards intimate relationships.

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Background: Societal, environmental, and negative attitudes encountered by women living with physical disabilities is a reality that reflects the way society construes their human and social environments. Not only are women with disabilities faced with issues of infirmity, but also isolation due to their disability especially when it comes to matters of love and intimacy. Negative social attitudes towards women with disabilities can have a negative impact on their daily lives, more so on their perceptions of intimate relationships. Not much has been explored, written, and published about the perceptions of female students living with physical disabilities towards intimate relationships. In the light of this, this study researches the perception and experiences of female student with physical disability at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus. Purpose: To explore the ways in which university female students living with physical disabilities perceive themselves, their sexuality and intimate relationships. Methods: Qualitative research design was used for this study and one-on-one interviews was conducted with 20 female students living with physical disabilities from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus. The participants were selected by convenience sampling. Results: The study found that women living with a physical disability perceived themselves as strong individuals capable of engaging in loving intimate relationships. The participants also raised other concerns such as the issues of trust in intimate relationships. Conclusion: The views expressed in this study may be useful in educating society about understanding issues of intimate relationships and disability as well as foster improved relations.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.