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An Exploration of the Culture of Prosecution of Violence Against Women in South African Courts Open Access


Other title
Afrocentric Feminism
Violence against women
Sensory Ethnography
South Africa
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Mogale, Ramadimetja S
Supervisor and department
Dr. Kushner, Kaysi (Faculty of Nursing)
Dr. Richter, Solina (Faculty of Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Pavlich, George ( Department of Sociology)
Dr. Racine, Louise ( College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan)
Dr. Caine, Vera ( Faculty of Nursing)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Violence against women (VAW) is a global concern that cuts across national, cultural, social and economic borders. The trends of VAW differ between developed and developing countries. In developed countries, such as Canada, governmental laws and legislations on VAW are strictly geared towards prosecuting violent crimes perpetrated against women, while in developing countries, such as South Africa (SA), much is needed regarding policies that effectively address VAW as a crime. The purpose of the study in broad terms was to explore the culture of prosecution of VAW in SA in order to enhance transdisciplinary knowledge for nursing. Qualitative modes of inquiry guided the research approach, employing sensory ethnography, an innovative methodology pioneered by Pink (2009). Various forms of data were generated, using courtscapes, observation of the prosecutors and other court personnel when prosecuting VAW cases, conversations with the prosecutors in order to explore the culture of prosecuting VAW, and review of relevant site documents which were used in the prosecution of VAW cases. The generation of sensory perceptions and receptions occurred simultaneously with data analysis. Spardley’s (1980) analytic processes of identification of domain, taxonomic, and componential analyses were used as the framework for making meaning of the culture of prosecuting VAW in South African courts. The findings are presented in four separate papers. The study findings revealed that the cultural scene wherein prosecution of VAW occurs epitomizes power whilst inducing fear in the victims. Linguistic patterns that are employed in this culture are value laden with an arbitrary prosecution approach that de-centers women. The cultural processes involved in the prosecution were found to be insensitive, yet the legislations that guide prosecution have endorsed sources of evidence such as J88 (medico-legal form) and the use of intermediary facilities intended to make prosecution of VAW victim-friendly. Regardless of the definitions of VAW in documents from the United Nations and VAW Acts in South Africa, it was noted in the findings that male and female prosecutors as cultural actors tended to define VAW according to their gender orientation. Additionally, a difference in the definition was also noted around the historical-political era in which the prosecutors completed their education. Findings from this study can inform efforts to contribute to the best practices in VAW prosecution, in relation to future evaluation research, policy development and amendments in health and justice departments.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Mogale, R., S., Kovacs Burns, K., & Richter, S. (2012). Violence against women in South Africa: Policy position and recommendations. Violence Against Women, 18(5), 580-594.

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