Xhosa-speaking single mothers experiences of intlawulo (paying the damages)

Lubbe, Caileen (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this study I explored Xhosa-speaking single mothers’ experiences of intlawulo. Intlawulo is a custom within the Xhosa culture that requires a man to pay compensatory money to a woman’s family if he admits to having impregnated her outside of wedlock. In English, the term intlawulo translates directly to “paying the damages”, and it is premised on the notion that a man has damaged an unmarried woman’s chastity, her reputation, and her future marriage prospects. This study employed an exploratory and qualitative research design. Participants were recruited through non-probability snowball sampling, and data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews. Twelve Xhosa-speaking single mothers from Khayelitsha, South Africa were selected to take part in the study and were interviewed by an experienced fieldworker. Data collection continued until data saturation occurred. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, and the data were analysed according to Braun and Clarke’s (2006) technique of thematic analysis. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems model was selected as the theoretical framework through which my findings were explored and theoretically conceptualised. The findings indicated that Xhosa-speaking single mothers’ experiences of intlawulo varied greatly, and were often contingent upon whether or not their partners had acknowledged paternity and/or paid intlawulo to their family. Positive experiences of intlawulo – which resulted from male partners’ acknowledgment of paternity and/or payment of intlawulo – included: improvements to self-esteem; positive emotions (e.g., happiness, pride); and improvements in relationships and communication amongst the families. Participants who had positive experiences also tended to hold more positive views of intlawulo, describing the custom as valuable and important; as something that held cultural significance; or as a means of connecting two families. In comparison, participants whose partners had not paid intlawulo or acknowledged paternity generally reported negative experiences of intlawulo, such as feelings of devaluation; stigmatisation; distress; anger; father-child separation; and conflict. These participants also tended to have negative views of the custom, seeing it as disempowering to women, or as something that held little importance and value. Many single mothers’ accounts alluded to a sense of disempowerment amongst women throughout the intlawulo process due to a lack of agency at being excluded from the negotiation process and perceiving intlawulo as a predominantly male-directed process. Beliefs surrounding the debate as to whether intlawulo is more important than the payment of child maintenance – and vice versa – was prominent throughout the data text, and it was found that most participants in this study favoured ongoing child maintenance over the payment of intlawulo. A number of barriers to intlawulo were identified, namely: financial constraints; scepticism over paternity claims; and differences in beliefs about and/or views on intlawulo between different families. Although the custom remains important and relevant to many single mothers and their families, shifting views on intlawulo between the younger and older generations were observed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie studie het ek Xhosa-sprekende enkelma’s se ondervindings en ervarings van intlawulo nagevors. Intlawulo is ’n gebruik in die Xhosa kultuur wat vereis dat ’n man ’n bedrag geld aan ’n vrou se familie betaal as vergoeding omdat hy haar voor die huwelik swanger gemaak het. Hierdie “betaling van skade” moet plaasvind omdat hy ’n ongetroude vrou van haar maagdelikheid beroof het en daardeur haar huwelikswaarde, reputasie, en toekomstige trougeleenthede verminder het. Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie was ondersoekend en beskrywend van aard. Deelnemers is verkry met behulp van ’n nie-waarskynlikheid sneeubalsteekproefneming en die data is met behulp van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude ingesamel. Twaalf Xhosa-sprekende enkelma’s van Khayelitsha in die Kaapse Metropool, Suid Afrika is gekies om aan die studie deel te neem. ’n Ervare Xhosa-sprekende vrou het as veldwerker die onderhoude gevoer totdat dataversadiging bereik is. Die onderhoude is woordeliks getranskribeer en volgens Braun en Clarke (2006) se tematiese ontledingstegniek ontleed. Bronfenbrenner (1979) se ekologiese stelselsmodel het as teoretiese raamwerk gedien aan die hand waarvan ek die studie beplan en die data ingesamel, ontleed en teoreties verklaar het. Ek het bevind dat Xhosa-sprekende enkelma’s se sienings van en ervarings met intlawulo merkbaar verskil. Hierdie verskille het dikwels daarvan afgehang of hulle mansvriend vaderskap erken het en/of intlawulo aan die deelnemer se familie betaal het. Deelnemers se positiewe ervarings met intlawulo het grootliks saamgehang met die erkenning van vaderskap en/of deur die betaling van intlawulo, en het die volgende ingesluit: ’n verbetering in selfbeeld, positiewe emosies (bv. geluk, trots); en verbeterde verhoudings en kommunikasie tussen die families. Deelnemers wat positiewe ervarings met intlawulo gehad het, was ook meer geneig om ’n positiewe siening daaroor te hê. Dit sluit in: die intlawulo-gebruik word beskou as waardevol en belangrik; dit is iets wat vir hulle kulturele betekenis het; en dit is iets wat die betrokke twee families aan mekaar verbind. Hierteenoor het deelnemers wie se mansvriend nie vaderskap erken het en/of intlawulo betaal het nie, meer negatiewe sienings van en ervarings met intlawulo gehad. Byvoorbeeld: gevoelens van minderwaardigheid, frustrasie, angs, ongemak, woede, stigmatisering, konflik, en die weerhouding van die pa’s om hulle kinders te sien. Verder het hierdie deelnemers ook intlawulo beskou as iets wat vrouens ontmagtig en wat onbelangrik en van min persoonlike waarde is. Verskeie deelnemers het verwys na ’n gevoel van ontmagtiging onder vrouens tydens die intlawulo-proses omdat hulle nie self aan die intlawulo-onderhandelinge en gesprekke kon deelneem nie. Hierdie gesprekke is grootliks deur mans beheer, terwyl vrouens gekeer is om aan die onderhandelingsproses deel te neem en/of daarvan uitgesluit was. Sienings oor die debat of intlawulo belangriker is as die betaling van kinderonderhoud, of omgekeerd, het sterk na vore gekom. Die bevindinge dui daarop dat meeste van die deelnemers in hierdie studie kinderonderhoud belangriker geag het as die betaling van intlawulo. Die volgende hindernisse vir die betaling van intlawulo is ook geïdentifiseer: finansiële beperkings van die mansvriend, skeptisisme oor die eis van vaderskap, en verskille tussen families oor die uitvoer van die intlawulo-gebruik. Alhoewel baie enkelma’s en hulle families steeds die gebruik as belangrik en waardevol sien, is daar ’n duidelike verskuiwing in sieninge oor intlawulo, veral merkbaar tussen die jonger en ouer geslagte.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108130
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