Umthombo 2 - Page 7



PHOTOGRAPH: B&WETCH_FREESTOCKS, UNSPLASH
Investigating
violence
against
pregnant
women
in South
Africa
Many South African women‚
already in difficult situations‚ are
experiencing violence during
pregnancy at the hands of their
intimate partners‚ a new study from
UCT has found.
Of the 376 women who took part
in the research‚ 15% had experienced
intimate partner violence during
pregnancy‚ with forms of abuse
ranging from sexual and physical to
emotional and verbal.
This is against a backdrop of South
Africa having intimate partner violence
(among all women‚ not just those who
are pregnant) which is as high as 71%
in some communities.
The sample was drawn from women
attending antenatal services at a
primary-level maternity facility in Cape
Town. An in-depth analysis of some
cases revealed that the violence some
of the women were experiencing was
not only perpetrated by their intimate
partners, but also by other members of
“Poverty and gender inequalities
contribute to the structural
determinants of violence.””
their household.
The researchers found that the high
level of violence during pregnancy was
associated with poverty-related factors
including food insecurity‚ mental illhealth‚ unemployment and unwanted
pregnancies.
“In its most severe form‚ violence
against pregnant women has been
reported as a contributing cause of
maternal deaths‚” said researchers
Sally Field‚ Michael Onah‚ Thandi van
Heyningen and Simone Honikman –
all part of the Perinatal Mental Health
Project.
It has also been associated with
“inadequate uptake of antenatal
care‚ with abused women being more
likely to delay seeking pregnancy care
and to attend fewer antenatal visits”.
They added that they found a strong
association between thoughts of
suicide in pregnant women and their
having experienced domestic violence.
They said that in South Africa‚
high levels of violence occur within
a context of multiple contributing
social dynamics. “These include
prominent patriarchal norms where
masculinity is associated with defence
of honour‚ harshness and risk taking.”
They added: “Poverty and gender
inequalities contribute to the structural
determinants of violence.”
Story adapted from one written
by Tanya Farber and published by
TimesLIVE.
u mth om bo
5





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