"Go cry by the river" : a case study of a counselling service for abused women in rural Swaziland

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In February 1999 a counselling service for women abuse survivors in rural Swaziland was evaluated. The evaluation highlighted that a number of organisational factors were undermining utilisation of the service. However, the evaluation failed to address broader contextual issues. This study, in the form of an in-depth case study, is a re-examination of the information gathered for the initial evaluation. It aims to explore the contextual issues underlying the poor utilisation of the counselling service. Within a qualitative paradigm, information for the initial evaluation was gathered through participant observation, open-ended interviews and a review of relevant documentation. A thematic analysis revealed that many perceptions about the meaning of the concept of 'women abuse' exist, both between and within the organisation and community groupings. As a result of the lack of a common definition of abuse and due to a pervasive silence around abuse in the community, it was perceived to be difficult for women to utilise local and organisational methods of healing. Furthermore, abuse in the community was perceived to be influenced by the broader context of women's inferior status in Swaziland. Recommendations are made with regard to strengthening the relationship between organisation and community. It is suggested that rather than importing organisational definitions and interventions into the community, the organisation play a facilitative role firstly, in encouraging community members to develop their own definitions of abuse - which are both guided by human rights principles and sensitive to the local context – and secondly, to devise their own strategies to deal with it.

Bibliography: leaves 79-83.