Prosecuting Violence against Women in South African Courts: A Reflection of the Legal Culture from an Afrocentric Perspective
Author(s)Mogale, Ramadimetja S.
prosecution and women
South African courts
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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AbstractIntroduction: The first author participated in a course related to critical feminist schools of thought while pursuing her doctoral program. Engaging with a scholarly community of feminist researchers, she gained multi-layered understandings and deeper insights on ways of knowing through the perspectives of the critical feminist schools of thought in the feminist movement. Unlike other feminist schools of thought, Afrocentric feminism is about the pluralism that captures the dynamism and fluidity of different cultural imperatives, historical forces and localized realities in the lives of African women. This feminist methodology assisted the author’s ability to link the ‘word to the world’ and ‘text to the context’ as it related to the oppression of women through the eyes of continentally based African women. Aim: Adopting an Afrocentric feminist conceptual framework, the authors sought to explore and describe the legal culture surrounding the prosecution of violence against women in South African courts. Research Methods: The study design was an Afrocentric feminist sensory ethnography. Court-scapes (recorded video tours of the physical setting of the courtrooms and court objects), participant observation, conversations with relevant court personnel, and review of relevant site documents were used to collect data. Insights: The culture of prosecution of violence against women was analysed using an Afrocentric feminist lens from a continentally based African women’s standpoint. The study indicated how kyriarchy as a socio-political system of perpetual hierarchical social relations, characterizes all women as inferior through the intersectional distinctions of race, ethnicity, class, ability, and locality. During the prosecution processes of violence against women, kyriarchy was evidenced and demonstrated through a collage of hierarchical criteria based on ethnicity, race, age, ability, and the location in which court case matter was heard. Conclusions: From feminist scholarship, evidence-based prosecution, which is in line with the South African Constitution Act No 108 of 1996 is recommended. The insights indicate that cases of VAW were prosecuted in open courts while there are intermediary facilities. This was a counter-practice on what is recommended by feminist scholarship on evidence as well as the Constitution, regardless of the prosecutors being on the side of the survivors.