SEXUAL ABUSE IN A SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEXT
In a South African context, Pierce and Bozlalek (2004) published some very disturbing research about child abuse. The South African national population estimates (http://www.statssa.gov.za/PublicationsHTML/P03022010) for mid-2010 show that 79,4 % of the population is African; 8,8% is coloured; 2,6% is Indian and 9,2% white. In the past, when apartheid was rife, “children of colour were usually excluded from the category of abused children”. Even though much has changed in South Africa since then, it is still very difficult to establish the extent and the scope of child maltreatment in South Africa. Abuse statistics in South Africa have been based solely on the Child Protection Unit’s (CPU) national statistics on child abuse offences reported. These exclude cases reported to social workers, health care workers and teachers. Even the CPU acknowledges that most cases are not reported at all. Worst of all, the recent research goes largely unpublished owing to financial constraints and lack of resources.
Apart from the financial and political constraints regarding child sexual abuse research in South Africa, there have been huge barriers and challenges when defining child sexual abuse in the African context (Pierce & Bozalek, 2004; Lachman, 1996). Many Africans perceive abuse as private and are unwilling to discuss it. Although this is not an exclusively South African occurrence, one also needs to look at the importance of male dominance and female subservience in a specific culture or ethnic group when considering child sexual abuse. In many African cultures this phenomenon is still an integral part of the societal structure (Pereda, Guilera, Forns & Gomez-Benito, 2009b; Lachman, 1996) and will affect the ease with which individuals disclose their experiences to researchers. Other factors that influence the incidence of child sexual abuse in Africa are the shocking, yet widespread belief that having sexual relations with virgins or very young girls is a cure for HIV; the loss of the traditional values based on bringing up children within the community where elders and neighbours observed behaviour; poverty and the influence of other cultures, especially with regard to sex tourism (Pereda, Guilera, Forns & Gomez-Benito, 2009b).
Taking all the above into consideration, I would like to emphasise that this study looks at each individual holistically within her own context. It would not really be possible to discuss individual experiences if one is generalising the mores and values of an ethnic generalisation. Because there is no conclusive evidence that ethnicity, race and culture affect the experience of child sexual abuse, it will not be a focal point in this research.
However, this research is inherently South African and it is necessary to consider the importance of such a study and the effect it could have on the population. According to the mid-2010 population estimates by population group, age and sex, there are 20.73 millio children aged 0 – 19 in South Africa. This is 41% of the country’s population. Of course the incidence of abuse, more specifically sexual abuse, is certainly not limited to girls, but this study only considers female survivors. The 10,3 million girls between birth and 19 years in South Africa represent approximately 21% of the population. More than half of this country’s population is female and considering that the worldwide statistics of the prevalence of child sexual abuse among females is at least one out of three (Finkelhor et al., 1990; Smith, 2008; Thurston, 2007; Vigil, 2005), this country would have a projected 8.55 million sexually abused females, keeping in mind that a large percentage of individuals never disclose their abuse. That is 17% of the population (http://www.statssa.gov.za/Publications).
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction, rationale, research design and chapter planning
1.3 ASSUMPTIONS IN THIS STUDY
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 CONTESTUALISING THE CORE CONCEPTS
1.7 RESEARCH PARADIGM.
1.8 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.9 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
1.10 QUALITY CRITERIA.
CHAPTER TWO: Sexual abuse: Context, definition, characteristics and symptoms
2.2 SEXUAL ABUSE IN A SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEX
2.3 DEFINING SEXUAL ABUSE
2.4 CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
2.5 SYMPTOMS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN ADULT SURVIVORS
CHAPTER THREE: Analysing, conceptualising and exploring resilience, proactive coping and cognitive emotion regulation strategies
3.2 RESILIENCE RESEARCH
3.3 PROACTIVE COPING
3.4 COGNITIVE EMOTION REGULATION STRATEGIES
CHAPTER FOUR: Research methodology
4.1 INTRODUCTION .
4.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM: CRITICAL REALISM
4.3 MIXED-METHOD APPROACH.
4.4 DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES
CHAPTER FIVE: Participants’ stories
CHAPTER SIX: Data Analysis
CHAPTER 7: Discussion of results, recommendations and limitations