The experiences of senior women traditional leaders in addressing women abuse in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: an afrocentric and nego-feminist approach.
Klaas-Makolomakwe, Gladys Nkareng.
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Women across the world are subjected to violence and experience gruesome forms of abuse. The problem of women abuse has exacerbated to far worse incidents being reported. Since the establishment of the new democratic dispensation in South Africa, this dire social problem has been acknowledged as a prominent political issue which is deeply connected to the private spaces of women. Traditional leaders have a critical role to play in addressing women abuse. This study explored the experiences of senior women traditional leaders in addressing women abuse. Underscored by Afrocentric and Nego-feminist frameworks, the study was conducted following a descriptive and interpretive research design. Data was collected from a purposely selected sample of 21 senior women traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal using semi-structured interviews. Thematic data analysis was used. This study revealed that various cases of abuse differing in magnitude and depth were encountered by senior women traditional leaders in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. Women who were victims of abuse were able to report abuse to senior women traditional leaders who exhibited empathy and care when addressing these cases. The study highlighted specific abilities about the strategies that senior women traditional leaders employed to address women abuse, the multiple challenges they faced and the support networks they had at their disposal. Their agency included making bold decisions to advocate for abused women to receive assistance they needed within traditional rural communities. The research participants raised concerns about the limitations imposed by the State on traditional leaders, which fuelled role conflict and hindered optimal services for women who were survivors of abuse. The study calls for the resuscitation of Afrocentric and Nego-feminist practices to mitigate the prevalence and dire effects of women abuse in rural communities. The findings also conclude that non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations, the private sector and various ministries within government need to cooperate and collaborate with one another to ensure human rights of women, gender equality and awareness of women abuse.