A Movement for Change: KwaZulu Natal Baseline Community Survey Results.

Executive summary

This descriptive report provides the stepping stones for WWSOSA partners to understand attitudes and beliefs in communities that they regularly engage with so that they can appropriately contextualise and design a process of equipping faith communities – not only to enable them to understand root causes of sexual and gender based violence, but also to speak out against it. This report will be used to mobilise and advocate for the involvement and leadership of faith communities and government structures to work to prevent sexual and gender based violence by transforming harmful social norms and attitudes which prevents a supportive environment for survivors of sexual and gender based violence.

Field surveys were carried out in the province of KwaZulu Natal in August 2016, and a total of 342 interviews were conducted, mostly with either heads of households, spouses or other adults over 18 years residing in the household.  A random, stratified sampling approach was used and mapping was done with the assistance of local community leaders and WWSOSA partners. The survey was enumerator administered as no sensitive questions around direct experiences of violence were asked. The survey was digitally loaded onto tablets using the KoBo Toolbox and data was directly captured and saved on the tablets for upload onto the project database in KoBo Toolbox. The area surveyed included villages in the uMlalazi municipality of KwaZulu Natal where WWSOSA partners were active in community work.

The living conditions of participants reflected hardship and food was not always available to families. Women more often experienced not having food, with nearly 8% of women in the sample having been dependent on their community for food for an extended period. By age group, the 18 – 24 years and 50+ years categories were least likely to always have food available to them. The study found high unemployment levels cutting across gender and age categories, and low levels of higher education. The highest levels of education (secondary or tertiary education) were seen in the age group 25 – 34 years, followed by the youngest group of 18 – 24 years. Women were more likely than men to complete secondary or tertiary education.

Most participants were from the Christian faith but a small number of participants belonged to traditional religious, Islam, or had no religion at all. 40.3% of all participants reported that faith always influenced daily decisions they made. A similar trend was also seen when breaking down into age groups with the youngest age group especially influenced by their faith despite not regularly attending services or prayers. Over half of all participants have heard sermons on gender relations and just over 1 in 4 participated in group discussions at their place of worship on gender issues. Participants most likely heard of prevention of violence against women campaigns on television and radio than campaigns run in their communities. Perceptions of violence as problematic in communities were reported slightly higher by women than by men. Sexual violence was noted by both men and women to be less problematic than other forms of violence in their communities. This may be attributed to the hidden nature of sexual violence and the shame and stigma attached to such experience.

Participants were asked about their views and attitudes on sexual violence and gender based violence (including emotional and physical violence). Key findings include:

  • Most men (57.4%) and women (58.4%) believed that men were superior than women. When offering a similar statement within a religious frame ie. God created men and women equally, the responses differed with more women (52.6%) agreeing with this this than men (48%).
  • Nearly half of men (48.9%) and women (45.6%) agreed that the scriptures command a man to discipline his wife. This contrasts with non-scriptural statements that there are times that women deserve to be beaten with 14.5% of women and 26.4% men agreeing to this. The age group 18 – 24 years had a significantly higher agreement (32.4%) to the statement that there are times women deserve to be beaten compared to other age groups.
  • More than half of men (60.4%) and women (52%) believed that according to Scriptures, a woman loses her right and control over her body once she is married. 37.5% of men and 22.7% of women said that a man is entitled to sex from a partner even if she doesn’t want to.
  • A small number of men and women both felt that physical violence was acceptable in a range of specific circumstances. Again, the youngest age group (18 – 24 years) were more likely than older age groups to justify physical violence against women.
  • 4% of men and 16.7% of women felt that survivors of rape did something to cause it to happen. These blaming attitudes were strongest in the youngest age group (18 – 24 years)
  • Overall, 16.8% of participants (men and women) felt it just for a husband to reject his wife if she was raped.
  • Overall, men and women both felt that the police would be most appropriate support for survivors (52.0%), followed by the survivor’s family (15.4%), a women’s organisation or NGO (13.4%) and a religious leader (9%).
  • Although only 9% of participants indicated that religious leaders would be appropriate support for survivors, most participants stated that faith and local leaders do have a role to play acting against SGBV, promoting gender equality and working with men and boys to achieve gender equality and non-violence.

This study has shown great potential for intervening in local communities to challenge beliefs and blaming attitudes toward survivors of sexual and gender based violence. It is a unique space for faith leaders, especially, to be engaged and equipped to address such issues as participants have deep connections to their faith and a positive belief that faith and local leaders have capacity to respond. It is important then, to also explore harmful attitudes of faith leaders and how these may impact on, or influence their faith communities. This study has also shown a need to work with younger age groups to address issues of violence and harmful attitudes. It is hoped that the findings will be used to advocate for survivors to break barriers and stigma so whole communities can speak out against sexual and gender based violence.

The survey is available in English

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