Urban Forum

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Refugees, Violence and Gender: the Case of Women in the Albert Park Area in Durban, South Africa

  • Sinenhlanhla Memela
  • Brij Maharaj


Women refugees are affected more by violence than any other female group in the world, before, during and after their forced migration experience, because of patriarchy. This paper examines the violence experienced by female refugees in Albert Park in Durban, South Africa. Albert Park is an area dominated by documented and undocumented foreign migrants from African countries, and since 2008, there have been many reported incidents of violence against refugees. The focus of this study is on intimate partner and public violence, the fear of urban public space and the failure of police protection encountered by female refugees as they have attempted to adapt and adjust in a hostile society, in Albert Park. Domestic tensions have emerged from a reversal of traditional patriarchal gender roles as female refugees have often become heads of households, while men had to tend to domestic chores. Female refugees are also afraid of using public space because they were subject to physical attacks, verbal abuse and sexual harassment from refugees, local people and taxi drivers and conductors. This has been aggravated by the high levels of xenophobic violence in South Africa, tensions between local people and foreigners and the knowledge that police protection is limited.


Women Refugees Violence Patriarchy Durban South Africa 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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