'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Spiegel, Andrew en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Wolf, Zanine Nadia en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-01-07T13:33:03Z
dc.date.available 2015-01-07T13:33:03Z
dc.date.issued 2002 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Wolf, Z. 2002. 'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/11692
dc.description Bibliography: leaves 80-84. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract This dissertation is about the power of tradition to influence domestic behavioural norms in Swaziland. I set out to demonstrate that, although the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has rendered itself indispensable to Swazi women, it still has a long way to go before realising its goal of the empowerment of abused women. This is due, primarily, to the organisation's adherence to international standards of women's human rights which cannot readily be applied in the particular context of Swaziland because they are resisted by those who seek to preserve what is claimed to be the traditional order. SWAGAA's counselling service is based on the premise that if an abused woman can be encouraged to make an informed, independent decision then she will have been empowered to take control of her life, and, ultimately, to free herself of the abuse. I argue that this approach, despite good intentions, is highly unrealistic in the locality of Swaziland. When a woman attempts to confront gender andlor domestic violence using the empowerment approach advocated by SWAGAA, she comes up against a number of entrenched ideological and practical constraints that undermine her power to negotiate. Foremost amongst these is the strong negative responses to any practice of 'airing dirty linen in public', such as consulting SWAGAA, for which a woman may be severely chastised. Women are reprimanded for seeking counsel beyond what are regarded as family boundaries because, they are told, by the police and by those around them, that this is inconsistent with acceptable and normative 'traditional' practice. I argue that the pressure placed upon women to adhere to practices of social organisation which are upheld as traditional, is rooted in a legacy of mistrust of foreign ideologies and practices. The leadership of the country has been, and continues to be engaged in an ongoing struggle to retain some semblance of what it regards as the traditional order. SWAGAA comes up directly against this legacy. Firstly, the women whom they counsel are constrained from making the individualistic decisions that SWAGAA wishes them to make. Secondly, women themselves are so embroiled in a social situation where men act as their advocates that they do not easily relate to the idea of individual empowerment. Yet SWAGAA persists with an approach that tries to undermine everyday normative practices, rather than working within the parameters of those norms. Its radical approach renders SWAGAA's counselling service too ambitious in Swaziland. What I thus advocate is an incremental approach that aims, gradually, to encourage women to empower themselves, given the persistence of the ideological and practical resistance to those attempts. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Practical Anthropology en_ZA
dc.title 'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland en_ZA
dc.type Master Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Social Anthropology en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Masters
dc.type.qualificationname MSocSc en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Wolf, Z. N. (2002). <i>'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Social Anthropology. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/11692 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Wolf, Zanine Nadia. <i>"'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Social Anthropology, 2002. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/11692 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Wolf ZN. 'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Social Anthropology, 2002 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/11692 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Wolf, Zanine Nadia AB - This dissertation is about the power of tradition to influence domestic behavioural norms in Swaziland. I set out to demonstrate that, although the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has rendered itself indispensable to Swazi women, it still has a long way to go before realising its goal of the empowerment of abused women. This is due, primarily, to the organisation's adherence to international standards of women's human rights which cannot readily be applied in the particular context of Swaziland because they are resisted by those who seek to preserve what is claimed to be the traditional order. SWAGAA's counselling service is based on the premise that if an abused woman can be encouraged to make an informed, independent decision then she will have been empowered to take control of her life, and, ultimately, to free herself of the abuse. I argue that this approach, despite good intentions, is highly unrealistic in the locality of Swaziland. When a woman attempts to confront gender andlor domestic violence using the empowerment approach advocated by SWAGAA, she comes up against a number of entrenched ideological and practical constraints that undermine her power to negotiate. Foremost amongst these is the strong negative responses to any practice of 'airing dirty linen in public', such as consulting SWAGAA, for which a woman may be severely chastised. Women are reprimanded for seeking counsel beyond what are regarded as family boundaries because, they are told, by the police and by those around them, that this is inconsistent with acceptable and normative 'traditional' practice. I argue that the pressure placed upon women to adhere to practices of social organisation which are upheld as traditional, is rooted in a legacy of mistrust of foreign ideologies and practices. The leadership of the country has been, and continues to be engaged in an ongoing struggle to retain some semblance of what it regards as the traditional order. SWAGAA comes up directly against this legacy. Firstly, the women whom they counsel are constrained from making the individualistic decisions that SWAGAA wishes them to make. Secondly, women themselves are so embroiled in a social situation where men act as their advocates that they do not easily relate to the idea of individual empowerment. Yet SWAGAA persists with an approach that tries to undermine everyday normative practices, rather than working within the parameters of those norms. Its radical approach renders SWAGAA's counselling service too ambitious in Swaziland. What I thus advocate is an incremental approach that aims, gradually, to encourage women to empower themselves, given the persistence of the ideological and practical resistance to those attempts. DA - 2002 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2002 T1 - 'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland TI - 'Airing dirty linen': the problems of establishing a women's rights organisation in contemporary Swaziland UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/11692 ER - en_ZA


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