Understanding the relationship between structural violence and the lives of Black lesbians

Social IssuesSexuality

  • Author Dr Jacqueline Wilson
  • Published August 27, 2022
  • Word count 792

The concept of structural violence is encompassed in peace and conflict studies. South Africa highlights an adverse history of slavery, apartheid, and colonisation (Meer and Müller, 2017). Hence, the subsequent paper aims to understand the relationship between structural violence and the lives of black lesbians in townships and how it affects them. The inquiry will specialise in three main dimensions, the legal, the economic, and everyday life, for intersectionality theory. In 1969, Johan Galtung, a sociologist, introduced the concept of structural violence. Galtung identified class, race, and social structure because of the primary indicators of structural violence. Structural inequalities lead to destructive consequences for women significantly, e.g. limiting their educational opportunities associated with poverty. Lewis (1998) defined poverty which was rephrased by Muller, as a "Culture of poverty", which describes a gaggle of people that elicit a culture that perceives itself as marginal. Hence, (Galtung, 1969) defines poverty defines indirect violence.

South African legislation on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) sexual rights has been the foremost progressive. On the contrary, the state has been burdened by increased rape cases among black lesbians in townships. Noteworthy, there's periodic news on media platforms about correctional rape incidents involving black lesbians.

There are significant challenges in changing the mentality, cultural attitude, and stereotypes engraved within the social institutions despite the progressive nature of legislation on LGBTQI rights (Kgalemang and Setume, 2016). Township conditions like insufficient care, inadequate education, and adverse health conditions are some structural inequalities affecting black lesbians. Consistent with Crenshaw (1989, p. 1244), limited studies on black lesbians and the prevalence of private and public divisions interfered with the reversible effects emergent from structural violence. Crenshaw (1989) continued to explain that the scholars focused primarily on sexuality, political violence, and widespread violence and not from an individual perspective (a somewhat more prevalent situation in townships). The above exploration was identified based on sexuality and gender as the primary elements.

Cultural preferences are structural elements which will cause sexual violence among minority groups such as LGBTQI. Price and Mintz (2013) explained that the accepted norms are supported by the fact that the institution of marriage should be heterosexual. Consequently, Coffey (1999, p. 57) noted that minority groups experience gender-based and sexual violence that negatively impacts these populations exhibiting different sexual preferences. Many black lesbians who live in poverty face isolation and experience many challenges adapting to their societal needs (Kgalemang and Setume, 2016). Noteworthy, township residents experience structural violence that has not been described in literature or media. Studies often show sexual assault among black lesbians aggravated by their gender and sexual identities but stray away from the power and intersectionality analysis. To analyse structural and direct violence on LGBTQI women in townships as a systematic human rights violation, this article suggests re-theorising the gap in the Black lesbian's gender and sexuality studies.

Systematic analysis of three categories of violence is direct, cultural, and structural, which are interrelated. Galtung developed a triangle of violence that theorised structural and cultural violence could lead to explicit violence (1969). However, the sociologist's conclusions were flawed because Galtung (1969) failed to focus on gendered aspects of the role of economic, social, and political violence in the structure. Conclusively, Galtung (1969) verified that interpersonal violence (gender-based) deriving from one individual has less harmful consequences than violence from an institutional system.

Black economic empowerment (BEE) was structural violence created to promote business ownership among the black population. However, there was no notable development despite the formation of BEE, which eventually failed. The consequence of the BEE failure alleviated poverty because the wealth was directed to profit capitalism. The sexism, misogynism, and discrimination constitute other sorts of violence that black lesbians face in healthcare and legal systems. Clear et al. (2010) discussed policing as gendered discrimination as structural violence illustrated by the criminal and social justice system framework, which they described as a "negative justice model". The authors discussed the above model by outlining its differences from the community justice framework.

Community justice theory focuses on promoting social controls and making a collective impact. Noteworthy, the concept is liable for various functions that include unemployment, alleviating poverty, and convictions. As Clear et al. (2010) explain, the framework of community justice improves collective community actions, the standard of public safety, and public life. Also, the framework is instrumental in restorative justice (Bazemore, 1998), community defence (Stone, 1996), community policing (Goldstein, 1990), community prosecutions (Boland, 1998), and community crime prevention (Bennett and Durie, 1999). Additionally, Clear and Karp (1998, p. 325) explained that restorative justice prioritised sanctions that required community reparations or restitution of the victims. Hence, the framework utilises restorative justice to determine dilemmas and tensions within feminist critical scholarships. However, feminists fail to support restorative justice, creating a controversial and challenging agreement despite having the identical goal of eliminating sexual violence against sexual minorities and women (Bazemore, 1998; Kgalemang and Setume, 2016).

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