Rethinking gender and conduits of control: A feminist review


  • Gabi Mkhize University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • Fikile Vilakazi University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


gendered violence, LGBTI people, patriarchal societies, rape, ukuhlolwa kwobuntombi


The South African Constitution has been hailed as one of the most progressive in the world and has received high acclaim internationally (Mkhwanazi 2016:6). However, the war on women, their bodies and their right to self-determination persists, irrespective of the Constitution. Literature reveals experiences of brutal rapes and killings of black lesbian women, as well as mistreatment and hate speech in the name of morality against sex workers, women seeking abortions and HIV-positive women (Strode et al. 2012:64). Based on a desktop review of images and audio-visuals of women’s narratives in South Africa, this paper finds that many of the country’s contemporary social institutions, such as the state, family, church and culture, amongst others, normalise forms of gendered violence, such as the policing, control and exploitation of women’s lives and bodies through cultural practices like ukuthwala and ukuhlolwa kwobuntombi. Research findings also include narratives of women, who – in spite of prevailing social and institutionalised violence – have leveraged personal agency to declare autonomy and make personal choices regarding their bodies and lives.