Attitudes to sexual coercion and rape within the Anglican Church, Cape Town: a cross sectional survey
Thesis (MFamMed)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
ENGLISH SUMMARY : Introduction: In South Africa 5.6-5.9 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, making South Africa the country in the world with the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. Despite numerous government measures to curb the pandemic, the prevalence and deaths due to HIV/AIDS have continued to rise to unacceptable levels. South Africa is reported to have one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world and has the worst known figures for gender–based violence for a country not at war. Violence and coercive practices have been found to dominate sexual relationships in South Africa. Male dominance in sexual relationships as well as the role of traditional masculinity has made women vulnerable and encouraged the spread of HIV/AIDS. Church attendance has been found to have an inverse relationship with domestic violence. This implies that the church through its community engagement could assist with reducing gender based violence and sexual coercion. Aims & Objectives: To determine to what extent the Anglican Church in the Cape Town Diocese is contributing to or challenging rape-supportive attitudes, sexual coercion and gender inequality. Specific objectives were: 1) To determine the beliefs, values and attitudes relevant to rape, sexual coercion and gender inequalities amongst people attending the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Cape Town: clergy, leaders and members of the church. 2) To make recommendations to the church regarding any specific issues that the church should address through its gender desk or other structures. Method: A cross sectional survey, which collected quantitative data. Study population was members of the Anglican Church from the 48 churches within the Diocese of Cape Town. 21churches were selected by simple random sampling that was stratified in terms of the membership numbers and predominant racial composition of the congregation. All people who attended the church on the study day were asked to complete a questionnaire. The data was analysed using Statistica version 8 with the help of the Centre for Statistical Consultation at Stellenbosch University. Results: There were 581 respondents from 21 churches of which 380 were females (65.4%), 184 were males (31.1%) and 17 (2.9%) did not indicate their gender. In general, the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Cape Town espoused progressive attitudes that did not create an environment conducive to sexual coercion, gender violence and rape. For instance, 98.8% of respondents disagreed that a man has good reason to hit his partner if she does not complete her housework to his satisfaction. 94.9% of respondents agreed that the church leadership considers rape and domestic violence to be important, while 98.3% of respondents disagreed that it is okay for a man to have multiple partners. However, the survey did show some potentially discriminatory attitudes amongst the church members towards those living with HIV and that different archdeaconries have different degree of openness in dealing with issues of rape, divorce, marriage and domestic violence. More than half of the respondents agreed that it is okay for a man to ask for a divorce or separation when he is afraid that the partner may infect him with HIV while two-third of respondents agreed that a woman could also do so for the same reason. Conclusion: In general the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Cape Town espoused progressive attitudes towards sexual coercion, rape and domestic violence that stand in contrast to more conservative and discriminatory attitudes reported in other denominations and African countries. Churches were willing to talk openly about the issues and to offer practical support and counselling. This implies that this faith based organization may be a useful ally in addressing these issues in South African society.
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