The underreporting of sexual violence against women in the Camdeboo

Luyt, D. P. (2008) The underreporting of sexual violence against women in the Camdeboo. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the underreporting of sexual violence against women in the Camdeboo. It is based on a survey of 971 women living in the Camdeboo aged fifteen and older. The thesis considers, with reference to relevant secondary literature, methodological issues pertinent to conducting survey research into violence against women. While many survey researchers into violence against women argue that behaviourally specific questions lead to higher rates of disclosure, the survey on which this thesis is based employed complex and open-ended questions to allow respondents to record their own definitions of physical and sexual abuse. 31,2 percent of the women surveyed disclosed having experienced sexual abuse, but 76,7 percent did not report this abuse to the police. The thesis explores the patterns of sexual abuse of women in the Camdeboo and the factors influencing the underreporting of such abuse. While it was possible to establish correlations between certain socio-demographic variables and the underreporting of sexual abuse, such correlations should be treated with caution. The survey found that women were far more likely to report (and disclose) sexual assaults by strangers than by people known to them, particularly intimate partners. Sexual abuse in intimate relations was found to be strongly associated with physical abuse, and women who had experienced sexual and physical abuse within intimate relationships were more likely to report their physical abuse to the police than their sexual abuse. However, the majority of women, particularly poor and economically dependent women, believed that reporting their intimate partner abuse to the police would not end it, and might even place them at greater risk. The evidence suggests that these perceptions are accurate. Under current circumstances, reporting sexual abuse to the police may not be the best help-seeking strategy available to many sexually abused women, and alternative sources of help may be more appropriate. Consideration should be given to directing more resources into such alternatives.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sexual violence; abuse; rape; underreporting
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
Supervisors:Vincent, L. (Dr)
ID Code:1645
Deposited By: Nicolene Mvinjelwa
Deposited On:29 Apr 2010 14:55
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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