Young women and domestic violence in rural South Africa – new article in Y&P

Y&P

Young women and domestic violence in rural South Africa – new article in YOUTH & POLICY

Linda Mshweshwe explores how South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act of 1998 is failing young women in rural communities who are subject to cultural norms that reinforce abuse.

It is of great concern that more than two decades since the implementation South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act (1998) many rural populations remain unaware about women’s rights. Young girls continue to be subjected to cultural practices that expose them to violent marriages.

SAdomviolence

The custom of Lobola and its implications for young women
In the rural communities of South Africa, girls as young as twelve enter into forced marriages with older men (see Mwambene and Sloth-Nielsen, 2011). The perceived financial gains from Lobola (the bride price) encourages parents to marry off their daughters at an early age, undermining their human rights (Sibanda, 2011). Lobola is a cultural practice whereby the groom’s family pay money or transfer livestock to the bride’s family in order to gain permission for the marriage (Mazibuko, 2016). Lobola serves to compensate the bride’s family for the expenses of raising the girl (Chireshe and Chireshe, 2010). Furthermore, it acknowledges the transfer of a bride’s reproductive capacity to her husband’s family (Rudwick and Posel, 2015).

Overall, South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act (1998) has not done well in addressing the rural cultural norms that place young women at risk of domestic violence. Practices like Lobola continue to expose teenage girls to domestic violence through arranged and forced marriages with older men. Lack of awareness of women’s rights and ignorance about domestic violence is the central problem in rural communities. Currently, there are no interventions aimed at changing the community and cultural norms that reinforce abuse. The implications that the practice of Lobola has for young women in rural areas needs to be addressed through social service interventions. These could include targeted community campaigns against gender-based violence and educational interventions aimed at challenging and changing cultural norms.

 

Young Women, Youth Work and Politics

By chance I tripped over this piece in the Huffington Post written by Sarah Robertson, Politicians meet the People. It begins:

Thanks to The Young Women’s Trust and the Good Youth Forum funded by Trust For London, I had the opportunity to have a tour of the Houses of Parliament in May and then a round table discussion with Labour MP’s. It was part of a piece of work around the development of services for women and girls and why young people don’t vote.

In addition Sarah reflects:

The group wanted to ask questions such as, with huge cuts in government funding out statutory youth service has been demolished with the pressure falling in the voluntary sector, who will support and represent our vulnerable young people and how will you reach and inspire this group to vote? And, was the last discussion just a publicity stunt to show Labour trying to engage with young people? And with cuts to NHS funding who will support the increasing number of young people with mental health? They had prepared lots of interesting questions and statements but lack of structure and time made it difficult to decipher any clear answers or actions at all. Even a straight forward answer to a question posed to an MP asking if she had accessed housing benefit was deflected and went unanswered. This did not fill young women with inspiration or trust only reinforced the view that young women were angry, frustrated and needed something drastic to inspire them and others to engage in the political system.

FMC logo

In my ignorance I’d not heard of the Young Women’s Trust or the Good Youth Forum, but the obligatory Google took me to the Future MOLDS Communities web site. Here is to be found another example of the changing economy of youth work, within which workers set up social enterprise initiatives in a bid to maintain provision for young people. Sarah is revealed to be the the Founder, Managing Director and volunteer of Future MOLDS Communities, a youth and community group and social enterprise run by local people for local people. She provides this eloquent case for the work of the project.

We are from deprived, disadvantaged and vulnerable environments facing issues which affect everyday life. These issues range from financial poverty, mental health, homelessness, unemployment, poor sexual health, teenage pregnancy and criminality. As a group of passionate, motivated and caring individuals we work together with our communities to overcome our barriers and strive for the ‘self-actualisation’ Maslow speaks of. But everyday life is a struggle and the demand for our help is ever increasing with the failure of statutory services to the most vulnerable and the ignorance of the systems which govern them. With £54million cuts to local authority funding it is our vulnerable young people and young adults who are suffering. Cuts are disproportionately hitting our young people the hardest with youth services slashed to a bare minimum of targeted provisions and the voluntary sector are expected to step in and pick up the growing and unacceptable slack.

The struggle for funding for grassroots groups who help the most vulnerable is a tragedy. Funding is eaten up by local authorities and large charities which then ask grassroots groups for voluntary help in engaging the underrepresented groups they are failing. Having a voice on a wider stage seems insignificant if you can’t even be heard in your local community. Local young people have developed a youth forum (The Good Youth Forum) to highlight and discuss local issues affecting their everyday lives after securing funding from Trust For London. It’s a platform for them to explore the world from their perspective, explore changes they would like to happen and developing strategies to affect change. Young people need that space and freedom to explore theirs and others worlds, to express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and to feel empowered to contribute towards change.

Although the platform we provide may be small it’s a platform for the effective representation of the views of underrepresented local young women. These views are pretty depressing, saddening, heart breaking, powerful and justified. Current attitudes towards the establishment, politics, the statutory sector and government in general are extremely negative with a sense of being failed, let down and unheard. There is a lack of trust and feelings of dishonesty when it comes to politics and politicians. They feel their needs are not heard, understood and subsequently failed to be addressed adequately.

On discussing voting with a group of young women, their views reflected the anger at not being able to affect or create change for themselves and their peers. They clearly stated they were not the least interested in politics, it is not a priority for them and the only reason they were engaging in such a discussion was because I’d asked them to. If I had not asked them, who would know their views, who would know how they feel, how are these vulnerable young women represented in today’s politics? This is another example, of the importance of funding for quality youth work in order to explore the world we all live in and so that young women are empowered to speak out about their priorities and they are represented.

At a time when there is a drive for the ‘de-professionalisation’ of our roles, a cut in our funding and an increase in demand for our services the same need for resilience, the need to develop coping strategies and the need to adapt in change we hope to see in our young people is something we need to develop as professionals. Keeping the faith is going to be the biggest challenge for all!

Young Women, Youth Work and Politics – Sarah Robertson

In recent months it has become more and more apparent that we are facing something of a crisis in youth work. Although I do need to remind myself that back in 1981 I was involved in organising a conference in Manchester,’Youth Work and the Crisis’! Nevertheless we are facing a qualitative shift in how youth work is funded and provided. In this light it’s great to hear voices from the ground, articulating what’s going on and how it is impacting on young people.

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Ta to powerfulinformation.org

In this sharp and revealing blog Sarah Robertson talks about Youth Work, Young Women and Politics – read it in full.

She begins:

I have been a youth worker for over 10 years but for the last six years I’ve had to become a coach, tutor, assessor, youth and community worker, mediator, advocate, administrator, finance office and fundraiser in order to sustain the work we do.

Amongst the points she makes:

The struggle for funding for grassroots groups who help the most vulnerable is a tragedy. Funding is eaten up by local authorities and large charities which then ask grassroots groups for voluntary help in engaging the underrepresented groups they are failing. Having a voice on a wider stage seems insignificant if you can’t even be heard in your local community. Local young people have developed a youth forum (The Good Youth Forum) to highlight and discuss local issues affecting their everyday lives after securing funding from Trust For London. It’s a platform for them to explore the world from their perspective, explore changes they would like to happen and developing strategies to affect change. Young people need that space and freedom to explore theirs and others worlds, to express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and to feel empowered to contribute towards change.

She ends:

At a time when there is a drive for the ‘de-professionalisation’ of our roles, a cut in our funding and an increase in demand for our services the same need for resilience, the need to develop coping strategies and the need to adapt in change we hope to see in our young people is something we need to develop as professionals. Keeping the faith is going to be the biggest challenge for all!

Claiming rights, facing fire, telling stories : young feminist activists

There have been encouraging signs over the last few years that feminist youth work is re-emerging. Feminist Webs has been central to this welcome shift and is now in a new home.

The Feminist Webs archive was packed up by some willing volunteer and has moved into the new Birley Campus in Hulme  (Manchester Metropolitan University), following the closure of the Didsbury Campus.

Janet Batsleer, who oversaw the move, said ‘It’s great isn’t it! We have had the archive in an office for years, and now it is in the new building, in archive shelving, and feels like its more integrated into the University and more accessible for the public.’

The archive is going to be opened up once a week from September by Alison Ronan who said, ‘I hope it will make it easier for anyone who is interested to be able to come and have a look at it, and to start doing more exciting things with it’.


She concludes:

Shifting the frame of how we work with young people is also essential. Funders must continue to respond more directly to the priorities identified by young people, not focus solely on protecting them. Young people need to be given space to have their own voices heard and influence how funding is spent. The pulse of youth engagement and empowerment is in their ability to take action that changes the world around them, and this area continues to be underfunded. 

When we ask ourselves how change is made throughout history, we know it is made collectively, often through diverse movements coming together. Young people, and in particular, young women and girls are a crucial part of strengthening and revitalizing movements and building progressive change. Today there are more than 1.8 billion young people (aged under 24) around the world, making up one quarter of the world’s population. It is clear their mass is the future. 

And, given our Campaign’s emphasis on Story-Telling, there’s a designated page, Our Voices, featuring young women’s personal stories as a powerful tool for social change.

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Thinking Seriously about Work with Girls and Young Women

Thinking Seriously

About Youth Work and Work With Girls and Young Women

Conference
22nd 23rd March 2010

Hinsley Hall, Leeds

The second of the biannual ‘Thinking Seriously’ conferences organized by ‘Youth and Policy’ is to focus on the subject of Work With Girls and Young Women.


The intention of the ‘Thinking Seriously’ conferences is to offer participants an opportunity to discuss youth work and other approaches to work with young people in a serious, reflective and analytical way, benefiting from analysis and research as well as practice experience across a range of settings and localities. The events are deliberately structured to be small scale to encourage sustained and open critical discussion and developmental conversation amongst participants.


The 2010 conference will approach the question of work with girls and young women from the broad perspective of gender inequality and difference and will seek to develop a critical understanding of current policy agendas and the particular professional specialisms associated with work with girls and young women.


In keeping with the intention to create an atmosphere and setting favourable to debate and conversation, we shall restrict attendance to a maximum of 60 and ask all participants to make a commitment to attend for the whole two day event so book early to guarantee a place!

Find further information and a booking form below, please get in touch if you require any further information.
This is a women’s only event, which has already sparked a classic debate on the In Defence Google group, to which you might subscribe –

In this context too,  find below the transcript of  the presentation given by Tania de St Croix at the recent UK Youth/Feminist Webs National Girls’ Work conference, the first to be held for 15 years.

Off Target: Girls Work, Control and Inequality

Talk at UK Youth Girls Work Conference, Tania de St Croix, 08/09/09

Tania begins:

I am not an experienced speaker and this is way out of my comfort zone! So why did I say yes? Because I don’t think we face-to-face workers speak up often enough. Because I love youth work and girls work. And because they are under threat.

The kind of youth work I love is not the special events, it’s what I try to do every night: usually improvised, mostly informal, sometimes chaotic, often creative and always questioning.

And I believe this is a time in youth work history when all of us who practice this kind of youth work need to take action if we want it to survive.

tania girls work speech september 09