n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Experience of abuse among women in a rural subdistrict of Limpopo Province, South Africa

Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



An exploratory qualitative study was conducted to determine the experience of abuse among women in a rural subdistrict of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Women visiting local clinics were screened for signs of abuse and those who indicated that they had suffered any form of abuse were asked whether they would like to participate in the study. Thirty-five women consented. Five trained research assistants conducted in-depth interviews using guiding questions. Interviews were tape recorded with the women's permission, cassettes were transcribed and translated and compared with the notes. Recurrent themes were identified and coded and the contents were summarised according to recurrent themes. The key findings were that women suffered all forms of abuse, namely physical, emotional, economic and sexual. Their experiences when seeking support from health services were both good and bad: They were categorised as good when the nurse "said it was not my fault", "treated me with kindness" and "talked about my problems", and categorised as bad when the nurse "shouted at me", "treated me badly", "did not give me treatment", "kept me on the queue for a long time", "told me to keep the abuse a secret", "told me she did not want to interfere between husband and wife", "told me to come back the next day" and "when she used painful words". Participants expected nurses to provide them with treatment, information on abuse, immediate counselling, treat them in private rooms and to be treated with respect. They also wanted nurses to ask them about abuse during general healthcare consultations.

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